The “Ultimate” Food Science.

You’d think that food science IS the only science in such a broad category, but I disagree of course. We breakdown the sciences into appropriate chapters, similar to Harold Magee’s teachings and tutorials in his book. Having read “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” about four times over during the last 5 years, I think I am finally doing some epic role play during practical execution. The ultimate “food science” has finally been manipulated by this consummate foodie scientist. When you get to the point where you understand how and why reactions take place, it’s amazing how everything just works. Harold Magee, knock on your pacemaker, I’m pretty sure you just became a best seller…. again. New generations and waves of food science lovers are high-fiving Harold (and themselves) once they “get” the concepts. Knowledge – it’s powerful stuff.

It seems that my bouts of food science have lent some “advices” to friends and family lately well worth recalling. Then there’s Jonathan – he’s deciphering the genetic protein codes of flour, and how they can be re-manipulated from formula to get the desired nutrition, and results from kneading, gluten work, and tasty baked crust.

What about the science of wilting bitter greens, chards, lettuces and other leafy greens with kosher salt to give the “affect” of blanching in hot water without even turning on a burner, or losing nutrients? You’ll hardly get a goiter, a little salt goes a long way…. leave it in a bowl for a while. What’s even cooler? The sufficient amount of flavour imparted to a lightly dressed salad in the end…. completely raw….

Ya, ya, I’ve studied the science of eggs and dairy, the pros and cons to pasteurization from milk to juices, the enzyme comparisons in meat to fish to dry wall – cool. But the science that satisfies my need for more is always baking science, and I wanna make cookies RIGHT NOW without a recipe, and KNOW that they’re going to work. “Magic” baking powder – small plastic tub in the back of your cupboard. If you’re like me, you read ingredients. If you’re my twin, you are confused by ingredients. If you’re my soul-mate, you don’t use ingredients until you understand what their purpose is. Anything with more than 4 syllables and remind you of Grade 9 science require a dictionary. Then challenge yourself to use that “word” in a sentence (like a Grade 4 Spelling Bee) to ensure you “get it”. Example: a pleasing 2-word item commonly found in cookery: baking powder – sodium bicarbonate (baking soda aka fridge refresher aka toothpaste aka cleaner), salt, and cornstarch. Soda reacts to liquid/acid. Cornstarch absorbs moisture so there’s no premature leavening. Too much powder and there’s bitterness and potentially “holey” baked goods. Or worse, they collapse. Well that’s BS. I want chewie cookies. Not tall cookies, with bubbly holes.

So here’s my question: have you ever dissected a recipe and interpreted the purpose(s) of each ingredient? Only then can you *truly* wing it – and really that’s where all the fun is had. Mammas and Gramammas have been saying for eons, “deary, don’t forget to really cream the fat and sugar together… or else…” Or else what? Flat, uninteresting cookies. Lame in everyway. Playdough. Nausea. Telling psychiatrists later in life why your childhood sucked so badly as they’re writing you prescriptions for ridelin, just because of bad cookies. Creaming ingredients “enlarges” the ingredients. Why do you need powders then? Ah! Breakthrough. Baking powder = laziness; creaming by hand = tennis elbow; creaming by machine = genius.

Cookies (these ain’t raw, but ain’t so bad for you):

1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup tipo “00” flour 11% protein (Italian equivalent to “all purpose” flour – higher protein than cake flour, but lower than bread flour)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I make my own, naturally)
2 free range organic local eggs (binders – adhesive for fat, sugar and dry ingredients to stick together without “gluey-ness”.)
2 tbsp almond butter (excellent taste, texture, and substitute for butter)
2 tbsp butter (a little to test recipes… next time I am certain I will not need it, while still achieving the same “flakiness”)
1/2 cup organic cane juice crystals (frankly, I do not like the taste of sugars… except this – tastes “natural”, and melts when cooked, not creamed)
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup 99% chocolate bar (hugely important antioxidants and cocoa butter content for thickening)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup sultana raisins
1/4 cup thompson raisins
1/4 tsp salt

350F 16 minutes

In case the method wasn’t obvious, cream together almond butter, butter and crystals. Add in vanilla, and beat one egg at a time into batter. Remove from mixer, add in oats, and flour. Fold in just to combine. Do not over-disturb the gluten. Fold everything else in.


Posted in food, recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Carnage: Continuity

I celebrate 2 months now – 2 months since food was cooked or caramelized above 115C.
Remember how I explained that falling off the wagon from time to time happens? Well, let me share a small story with you: falling off the wagon at La Quercia was a toughy. Not only has starch of the “handmade pasta” magnitude been removed from life, adding it back in for a one-night-only celebrity shift was as decadent as it was painful. After 4 courses including gnocchi, lasagne, pappardelle, and risotto, I felt stoned. I thought the lights were flickering on and off, it was really really really hot and clammy, and I was seriously fucked up. The masochistic part about all of this: La Quercia is worth going into a food coma for – lethargic, weak, distended, mental madness, cold sweats – I will remind those reading this – these are the symptoms that occur in Lauren’s body since eating raw, and in no way reflect the feelings of complete and utter gluttonous satisfaction achieved whilst eating 10 courses at La Quercia a year prior.

So where do I find myself now – it’s now become super easy to be creative. Although it was challenging as I have conveyed in my previous story to develop recipes that are raw, interesting and mostly meatless, I don’t find that’s the case anymore. It should be noted that incorporating some of the raw practices will still make you feel better comparatively so who cares if here and there something’s cooked. Sometime it’s not worth going hungry just because you cannot figure out how to dehydrate your falafel balls. So here are some cool recipes that I have developed in the past 2 months worthy of sharing:

Burrito filling:

pulse in food processor:
canned tomatoes

crush in mortar and pestle:
red chili flakes

pulse in food processor until crumbly:
hemp seeds
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds

chop by hand into small cubes:
medium tofu

pulse in food processor until resembles “rice”

Soak navy beans over night in cold water, drain and set aside.

In the end, combine all the ingredients together carefully in a bowl, and mix (plus olive oil).
Keep textures vivid. Keep flavours bold. Adjust where you need to. Eat with organic corn tortillas, or in butter lettuce wraps.

Remember to season everything individually, and I am purposely not giving amounts: feel it out.


Pulse in food processor:
black and white sesame seeds

Pulse in food processor:
chick peas
lemon juice
olive oil

crush in mortar and pestle:
red chili flakes


slosh dressing:
Plain or fruit yogurt
lemon juice
chopped cucumber

Season everywhere. In the end, combine all the ingredients together carefully in a bowl, and mix (plus one egg).
This is where people would use a dehydrator, but to be honest I am not that set on it yet – maybe in 3 months. In the meantime, you can “cook” the falafel gently over medium heat, or in the oven doing the same.
Keep textures vivid. Keep flavours bold. Adjust where you need to. Eat with organic pita, or on a salad.

You’ll notice that there is some repetition in the base “pate” for these recipes. Find the combinations of flavours, textures, and ingredients that work for you, and change the consistancy, applications, and spices in order to accommodate interesting new dishes. Mine seems to work well as a seed and nut pate as listed above.

My go-to “pate”

sesame (black and white)
poppy seeds
hemp seeds
walnuts (occasionally)
tofu (optional)

My go-to “soup base”

veg stock + water
coconut milk + coconut cream
fresh chilis
fresh limes

My go-to “sweet base” (used for fruit bars on their own, tart bases, or topping for yogurt)
mission figs
dried apricots
unsulphured coconut
vanilla bean

Posted in Default Category - No Reason., recipes | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Raw Carnage: The Theory.

Over the last several weeks my boyfriend and I have been eating a “raw” or mostly uncooked diet. After being severely ridiculed by friends and family for a random choice in diet change, I can now explain why it’s great, and why I will continue to incorporate these eating principles into my daily life going forward. But don’t be fooled, I fell of the raw-wagon a few times, and it wasn’t so bad – I think it’s important to treat this diet change as an “inclusion of basic practices” that make you feel good – the use of “cheat days” is also unnecessary – you want a burger? Eat the damn burger. It won’t kill you, it’ll just help you love your raw life more, and savour the decadent things… eating slower…. mmmmmm… We’ll chalk this story up to a “summary of awesomeness”, and soon you too will high-five yourself, reach around and pat yourself on the back when you grab a branch of organic broccoli to snack on instead of a bowl of skittles. Taste the new rainbow.

Theory: “Dining in the Raw” by Rita Romano (published 1992) is a bit of a bible. Not just because it has super random recipes so you can stuff yourself with something other than raw kale (which I might add is painful at the same time everyday…), but because it thoroughly explains the macrobiotic properties of the edible world and what that means for us – here, in laymans terms: can I eat that raw squash or is it a tad weird? Will my intestine’s explode? As I certainly not an expert on raw dining, what I do know is that I am an expert-eater in general. My body talks a lot – tells me exactly what it wants, and when. I am high-energy person that requires food and beverage every 2 hours at least. I also know that my body and blood thrive on vegetables, fruit, grains and meat. I also know and understand that my body stabs me in the ribs with an imaginary ice-pick when I choose to eat, and attempt to digest a medium rare steak over a bowl of raw beef tartare. The most important “tangible” theory that Rita lends is this: Living, sprouted and “raw” foods contain more enzymes that aid in effective digestion than anything else on the planet. These enzymes are lost in cooking, or the boiling water they’re slightly blanched in. Although Rita suggests that meat is hard to digest whether raw or cooked, THIS DIET CHANGE IS NOT ABOUT BECOMING A VEGAN. In fact, it’s about digestion, and the body’s longevity. The more raw you eat, the better your skin, and the better your body.

Eating: Jonathan and I have been rather busy preparing food for ourselves. Since we only picked up “Dining in the Raw” a week ago, we were traveling on the good-graces of our vegan-chef-friend Jeremy, and the advice from his partner, Lindsay (also a chef, but 100% raw vegan). I will say that spending 3 days a week in the Organic Acres vegetable market at Granville Island has been as nourishing as it’s been expensive – collecting as much as possible in produce without the sense of “over-buying, or over-eating” but being able to sustain the produce over 2-3 days has been challenging. It’s no secret that preparing raw food is difficult if you have no clue what “raw” means to you above and beyond a bag of slimy peeled baby carrot sticks and a peeled orange. It should also be mentioned that “raw” is not for everyone, but then again, neither is Tim Horton’s coffee. We made some exceptions to the raw movement – we thought it quite important to retrieve a sustainable amount of fat through 8% Mediterranean style yogurt with quinoa, and Odwala Green Goodness smoothies in the morning to enhance our brains. I started to feel around 2:00pm everyday that my brain was going to explode – minor headaches, muscle pain, and lack of focus – this is when cooked rice becomes a necessity for Lauren.

Now that it’s the better part of 6 weeks that I have been eating “raw”, my body has adapted. Its adapted to the point where cooked food actually affects my digestive system – what I mean by that is the almost instant distention of my stomach – this is attributed to my intestinal enzymes working overtime without the introduction of new ones that we spoke about a few lines back. The amount of discomfort I can now associate with cooked beef is unfortunate, but my body thanks me for the good-bye. My skin is radiant, my organs clean, and my body is super strong. I feel like I have gone through a body transformation, kinda like Spider-Man, except without the dirty spiders nibbling at my hand-skin. I haven’t tried to climb my apartments’ external walls yet, but I suspect eating elevated amounts of broccoli will not make my hands and feet stick, in fact I’ll likely be perceived as the psycho on floor 12 base jumping down to London Drugs without success…

Creating items and meals that incorporate those “meaty” textural and visual components – grain and seed burgers with bulgur wheat and red quinoa (the same mixture used for “falafel” the next day), tofu, mushrooms, and Jonathan’s most recent culinary invention, eggplant BBQ sauce – helps ween me off those uncomfortable feelings of being an enzymatic punching bag. It’s amazing when the only meats available to me in Gastown at Nester’s Market are garbage from the states. It makes the decision so much easier to make. When I have real trouble is at Granville Island at the Fish Market, and Whole Foods where those delicious kushi and kumamoto osyters, honey mussels, Cornish hens, ducks and ribeye steaks stare me in the face tempting me with their imminent flavour. At those times, I fight for seafood, and go home. This is not a moral issue, just a digestive issue. It’s in the interest of keeping things “consistent” that I make these choices, however there’s something so Neanderthal about eating raw meat that is both satisfying and odd. I guess like anything we eventually return to a simplistic beginning, only this time I’m armed with a super hi-fi food processor.

1) I went to Whole Foods to buy nuts. I spent $90. Eating raw is expensive. If you cannot afford it, don’t do it. You MUST eat constantly. Accidentally starving yourself will cause your body to eat away at muscle mass for energy. What good is it if you’re thin, and radiant, but can’t lift your scrawny body off the couch? Gross.

2) Get a bike. Cycle everywhere. Afterward, give your body what it craves, regardless. I crave greens and hard boiled eggs, don’t know why, but I don’t argue. The eggs are allowed as the temperature doesn’t reach over 115C (which I might add is the rule for raw diets).

3) Eating raw with a partner – either friend or lover – is the easiest. Split groceries, eating out, and prepping for the week.

4) Make things in advance – ferment cabbage and other shredded roots with salt and water in a cool dry place covered in plastic wrap for 3 weeks. Bulgur wheat and quinoa when cooked and cooled taste great on yogurt, plus create binder and “filler” for burgers and salads. Example: the best kimchi I’ve ever had, made using wild ramps (leeks) courtesy of Jonathan.

5) Be creative. You cannot hurt yourself while eating raw, so experiment. Think about texture comparisons from raw to cooked to create interesting substitutes. Use books and nutritional information about grains, herbs, plants, legumes, flowers, nuts, etc… to learn the best way to use them and how much to eat.

Living Raw Food – Sarma Melngailis
Dining in the Raw – Rita Romano
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen – Harold Magee
Molecular Gastronomy – Herve This

Posted in Default Category - No Reason., food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Whiskey – Ambrosia of the Common Wo/Man.

by Lauren Mote

The hallmark of contemporary spirit distillation in the United States is arguably the most delicious – American Whiskey. Its history has not been extremely well documented, but nonetheless a significant timeline, coinciding with a rich American history, tells a long tale of whiskey’s evolution from a “xxx” marked moonshine bottle in “Spaghetti Westerns”, to its resurgence as one of the modern palate pleasures.

American Whiskey is separated into a bunch of different categories, but they all have one thing in common – raw materials, like rye, corn, barley and wheat – smoked ahead of time before the “cooking stage” and that’s why that familiar sweet, rich, heavy nose and palate showcase some big differences from its Scottish and Irish relatives.

You are more then likely familiar with Jack Daniel’s, amongst a select group of spirits that are commonly requested by name rather then spirit type. It screams a certain popularity and following for its comforting flavour and aroma, and that’s due in part to its unique method of production. Jack Daniel’s, along with George Dickel Distillery, are the only two active distilleries in Tennessee today. Since their inception in the late 1860’s, their characteristics have been extremely similar to bourbon whiskey, but there’s a delicious twist – the character achieved in Tennessee style whiskies comes from the unique maple charcoal filtering.

Located in southern Tennessee, both the Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel’s distilleries have access to local cave spring and limestone waters, extremely high quality grains, and nice hot weather which aids the maturation of a spirit – this alone showcases the anticipated quality of the whiskies produced. However, as we’re always aware, the method of production is just as important. Let’s go – the grains are cooked with water, and gently stirred in the mash tun, in this case the grains are mostly maize (corn), malted rye and barley, plus, a touch of the previous cycles’ mash is added. Sour mash is not a type of whiskey, as some have previously thought. It’s a method of introducing a live yeast culture to start fermentation, which is taken from a previous wash. This method is most popular in Tennessee and bourbon whiskies. After being washed a second time, the mash will sit for 3-4 days in large wash backs (huge mash tubs – can be either stainless steel or wood). After the sugars in the mash have fermented for a few days, it’s run through a single column still, sometimes known as a “beer still”, followed by a turn in the copper pot still. The double distilled spirit now goes through its charcoal filtering. Locally sourced sugar maple trees are cut into 4 ft x 1 ft staves, and after being neatly stacked, they are lit on fire, and smolder in the open air. Once the fire reaches a roaring red glow, it’s hosed down. Tour groups can often watch “the burning ceremony”, however they happen more often at the Jack Daniel’s distillery, due to the sheer volume of production. The crumbly black remains of the sugar maple are ground and packed into “charcoal”. Now, the difference between Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel’s filtration method – “Jack” drips through the charcoal from perforated copper pipes, and comes right out at the bottom – it almost leaves a subtly sweet “smoke” on the whiskey, whereas “George” will fill up to the top of the tank, and be released slowly, leaving an abrupt charcoal flavour.

Lastly, the spirit by law must be stored in a new American Oak barrel (sometimes known as “white oak”). The barrel will also be charred on the inside to release the sweetness in the wood, creating what’s known as the “red layer”. This adds those wonderful caramel, coconut, vanilla, and spicy notes to the spirit, and its level of character strength varies depending on how long it sits in the barrel, plus the size of the barrel. Tennessee style whiskies have fantastic ageability, so if you can manage to get your hands on an aged single barrel spirit, share wisely. Regardless of how you enjoy your Tennessee whiskey, whether a small amount in a tasting glass, shots at the bar, or used as a base spirit in classic and contemporary cocktails, it’s still interesting to examine them against the other variations in American whiskey – the differences just jump out from the glass.

Bourbon whiskey has been produced since the late 1700s, and gone through its own ups and downs in the American marketplace. The very pulse of the great American distilleries have had some really hard times. Between World Wars, The Great Depression, and Prohibition, distilleries have opened, closed, changed sites, and ultimately – as most bourbon whiskey connaisseurs would agree – this liquid gold is finally getting another chance to shape the way we drink spirits moving forward.

Likely the perceived favourite of all the American Whiskey types, bourbon whiskey makes its mark throughout several distilleries lined up all over its proverbial “mecca” located in northern Kentucky. Similarly to the production of Tennessee whiskey, bourbon will undergo the same method of production, with a high temperature cook on raw material with clean, fresh water, and the addition of the sour mash. Following some quiet time in the wash backs, fermentation takes place, converting the sugars in the corn dominated mass to alcohol. After stints in column and pot still, the alcohol is cooled. Legally bourbon whiskey cannot be distilled to a higher proof then 160 (80% alcohol by volume). After a simple filtration, th spirit will move to barrel. It should be noted that bourbon whiskey can only be made in the United States, and can only legally be made wherever distilling spirits is permissible, while adhering to some strict guidelines. Additionally, bourbon whiskey must be made in the United States, and must be made from at least 51% maize (corn) however most bourbons will show at least a 70% maize dominancy, plus charred American oak aging (using new barrels), and specific labeling requirements. If the maturity is showcased on the bottle, it must be distinctly labeled so; the youngest spirit in the blend should be displayed, and thusly if a bourbon is aged for less then 4 years, it must be clearly labeled on the bottle.

Like we see in France with its regulatory system, Appellation d’origine contrôlée or “AOC”, there’s also a system in place in the United States used to regulate the quality of the distilates produced; eventually it becomes just a matter of personal taste and preference to decide between the particular bourbons that win your heart. The tasting note in general for bourbon whiskey is such that the corn dominancy makes the spirit heavier. The richness in the spirit makes for a long lasting finish on the palate, round, full body and mouthfeel, plus a perceived sweetness from the American oak. The barrels, once they’re charred, release an unprecidented amount of sweetness from the wood, capturing sweet and soft spices that enhance considerably if the spirit is strictly matured for long periods of time. As well, the hint of nuttiness that I have found in Pappy Van Winkle 20 year striaght Kentucky bourbon is likely attributed to its length in barrel, plus its oxidative character which has occurred from oxygen leaching through the wood in a welcomed way. This adds yet another layer to its already complex character.

When studying any other spirits, or wines, whiskies are no different – although the way we taste them differs slightly, its beauty allows us to stay interested in its history, its production, and its future as it rapidly shapes the contemporary cocktail culture.

In the interest of epxlaining a boubon tasting note, the rich, smokey, sweet bourbon whiskey produced in Frankfort at the Buffalo Trace distillery will hardly compare to the fruity, smooth, clean bourbon produced at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto – not because one’s better then the other, but more so the styles vary from each distillery, percentage of grains used, water quality, aging, storage, and method of production. Plus, it’s different strokes for different folks – I prefer a certain type of bourbon in my sours, over what I prefer straight up with a beer.

Posted in Default Category - No Reason., Featured Contributor, libations, spirits | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Can you put a price on passion?

I thought I’d share something more personal than professional – just to show my readers that I am more human than artificial. Sounds crazy, but if you don’t tear up even a little after reading this, it’s you who may be artificial in the end. By the way, Lauren Mote is in love, and really wants to share it with the world.

I have come to realize that talent, passion, personality, drive and spirit seldom come as a package deal.
One usually has some sociopathic tendency to float to one end of the spectrum while leaving the other side with a large void…
What happens when you meet someone that DOES have all of these things? Do you let pre-conceived notions get in the way? Perhaps it’s a mirror-image phenomenon. Question: what if you are so comfortable and aware of yourself that you realize you yourself are exactly the same? Question: is it freaky to find out that you might have the ability to DO, BE or ACCOMPLISH anything you want together? The brain’s craving for knowledge matched with the heart’s craving for love, passion and fulfillment can create connections you seldom thought possible.

Imagine an accidental meeting develops into something.
Imagine an encounter you least expected transforms into something even bigger.
As if to say ingredients in a pantry viewed by the right person in the right way transform into the perfect dish, just as the
gentle spirits balanced with their counterpoints and ideal matches create a psychedelic experience in your mouth, the same can be said of the feeling we get through complete and utter fulfillment. How can you possibly let a feeling so strong dissipate into a missed opportunity?

For the better part of 10 months I have lived in a complete state of chaos. Not that my life was failing in any way, in fact just the opposite. Like a tortured writer publishes an epic best selling story through the motivation of emotional strife, I too channeled all of my anger and emotional disappointment into building a thriving, successful business from nothing. At the time, I felt happy. Always smiling. I didn’t feel sad. I was simply dealing with loneliness, and the frequent craving for destruction – by destruction I mean the energetic madness of constant drinking, partying, and just overall bad judgment calls. Bad judgment that almost cost me my job twice. Its really hard when one goes through an emotional roller-coaster to just “snap out of it”. It’s increasingly tough to distinguish between hindsight rationality and forward thinking. I found as more time passed, my erratic party lifestyle was finally diminishing. I have always made sure to put others first, and worry about me afterwards – a mother-goose type syndrome that led me into this situation in the first place. There’s a big difference between being a great role model and leading by example. The former I excel at.

As I continue to channel my energy into the controllables in my life – work, family, friends, and passion – I see now that I am my first love. Always. Moving forward I am the one who changes the world. I too can change thinking, concepts and behaviour, and create something truly special. All the while as I’m being inspired by the right people.

In order for me to be truly happy in every aspect, I must move past this fear of committing to the wrong jobs, wrong situations and wrong relationships. Wrong just doesn’t exist anymore because I’m strong. I always have been. I nurture myself daily, but seldom see the things I’m missing. Now, I see everything. How often do I stop on a street and smell the flowers? Many, many, many times a day.

Being in the unique position of strength in every way, I find it interesting and ironic that I have developed a weakness. It’s written all over my grinning face, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Posted in Default Category - No Reason. | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

The Passing of a Legend.

Bryan was a great man. A brilliant example of what a grandfather should be. Caring, compassionate, strong and funny. Always there for his grandchildren since day one. He never left our sides, and he loved us dearly. We were raised in his image – thoughtful, touching, and confident. He will live on inside us forever.

Favourite shows:
While other children were watching Sesame Street and Polka Dot Door, we were watching The Benny Hill Show, Faulty Towers, and Matlock. John Cleese and Eric Idle had more of an impact on our “upbring” than any other random celebrity you can think of. Laurel & Hardy take the cake though; his favourite episode was “Way out West” – get on the mule.

Favourite line:
“Me teeth keep sliding down”.

Favourite car:
The Chevy Silverado was his baby. Filled with tools, and general fixer-upper stuff underneath the gold and maroon cab, the license plate read “BRYANZ”. Too hilarious.

Favourite song:
“Would you like to swing on a star” – Frank Sinatra

Fear-factor as a child:
“Please don’t take off your glasses when you’re mad, please don’t do it” we mutter to ourselves. Grandad takes off his glasses, and we run screaming. Now if that’s the cheapest and most effective way to get the kids to stop horsing around and eat their vegetables, he pretty much wrote the very “short” book on parenting.

In the later years for Bryan, he had many miraculous recoveries under his belt. Having outlived his brothers and mother who suffered from mild to medium heart disease, in the end it was a heart attack that claimed the lives of his brothers Kenneth and Fred in England. Despite that Bryan himself has had 3 heart attacks, 5-6 strokes, an embolism, and two hernia operations, he was still out riding around on his scooter, or his bright yellow Mielli bicycle. Memories of him barbecuing with a white chef’s hat and tall apron listening to swing and wartime musicals outside his summer trailor with his wife, my nana Florence while us kids ran around like crazy playing horseshoes. What about his addiction to Bugs Bunny and the Simpsons? Wash it all down with an ice-cold Dave’s Honey Brown Lager – his thing. His short and timeless acting career was pretty cool too. Standing in denim overalls with my older brother Sasha in the town of “Oshcosh” in the popular 80’s movie about the life of Terry Fox, as well as an appearance in Recruits, and hilarious home movie “We are the People of Earth” filmed out by the waterworks in East Toronto. His perfect yellow speedboat on Lake Ontario, his red and white striped swimming trunks, and his Overkill volleyball hat. He was a dude in every sense of the word. A debilitating stroke in his right brain would send his left side into a wild panic and paralyzing shock in 2007. From this he made an incredible attempt at recovery, and vowing he’d walk again. And he did. The past 6 months were very painful though. He was battling many complications with circulation in his legs, feet, and ultimately these ailments would dictate the future. He was no doubt a fighter, and although sadness consumes us all, we are fortunate to learn that he’s hanging out with his brothers once again. As I think back to our childhood while growing up into adults, I am reminded that each of us, Sasha, Jake and I, all had a very different relationship with our grandfather. This seldom happens in families, and that’s why it’s so magical. We love you, we miss you, and we will cherish these memories forever. By the way, thanks for building Sasha a go-kart, Jake a playhouse which turned into your tool shed, and letting me always style your hair at the dinner table.

MOTE, Bryan Arthur —
June 27, 1923 – March 15, 2010
Beloved husband to Florence; devoted father to Carol and Linda; cherished grandfather of Sasha and Lucy Dolgy (Qatar), Lauren Mote-Dolgy (Vancouver) and Jake Dolgy (Toronto); great-grandfather to Jack Dolgy; dear brother-in-law of Joan Trotman (Belleville); Vin
Griffiths and Mary Osborn (Wednesfield, UK) and loving companion to pets Candy and Baby, passed peacefully this morning in Belleville, Ontario. Bryan will be remembered as an honoured WWII Veteran (RAF), a friend to his countrymen and a gentleman of the highest order. Special thanks to the kind and loving staff at Belmont Long Term Care in Belleville. A private family service to be held later this week at Belleville Cemetery and Crematorium. Donations to the OSPCA or Humane Society International in Bryan’s name would be most welcome.

Posted in Default Category - No Reason. | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A MyPressi Experiment

disassembled, like a kid taking apart an engine.

Mark Prince – more commonly known as the “Coffee Geek” – invited me over to the CoffeeLab to check out this new little contraption he was loaned for demos and reviews. The little guy is called the “MyPressi”. Its slogan on the side of the box says it all, “this hand-held espresso maker will change how, and where, you enjoy delicious coffee and espresso-based beverages”. I added my own important questions to this slogan – why. Why would Mark introduce this product to me? Why would someone like me use it when I already have an espresso machine, as well as a large portion of disposable income set aside for my “on the go” espresso addiction? The answer was quite simple. As this hand-held machine has many important uses, like the assistance in espresso machine calibration in cafes and home brewing, it has successfully brewed a high-intensity shot of espresso, by replacing the hot water with ice-cold alcohol. That’s where I come in. My business is in creating interesting infusions. So, once I went through an intense product demo with Mark, I had to develop a new program for its usage. I’d have to say, this experimental program was really interesting.

This blog post may just turn right into a lab report.


Around the World in 24 hours:
In each of the major coffee growing regions around the world, the beans change in flavour profile. As a general rule through research, I used the tasting notes from each of the three major regions, Indonesia, Africa and Central America, infused them into an alcoholic liquid, and used the liquid as the base in my espresso shot. Plus, I did just a straight-up vodka/espresso shot just to see how it’d stand on it’s own in something neutral.

Regional tasting notes:

1) Indonesia, but specifically tastings notes from Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Papa New Guinea coffee beans: the rich, powerful, spicy and earthy notes of Sumatra and Sulawesi, and the light, aired acidity, fruit and citrus of Papa New Guinea (experimental spirits include grand marnier, orange juniper lemongrass bitters, grapefruit szechuan peppercorn fennel bitters)

2) Africa, but specifically the tasting notes from high-altitude Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee beans: floral, roses, honey, lemon, lime, super creamy texture – the ‘texture’ is quite a sought after characteristic for this type of coffee (experimental spirits include floral bitters, ricard, lime green tea bitters)

3) Central America, but specifically beans from Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvidor and Panama: cocoa, cherry, lavender, almonds, star anise, orange, high caramel and butterscotch-like sweetness (experimental spirits include chocolate vermouth, sweet vermouth, port, cointreau)


1) Cold attempt – I thought the easiest way to use the MyPressi for infusions was by using cold product in a cold MyPressi unit. The problem I encountered was not a surprise – similarly to pulling an espresso shot, there are several factors that affect the way the shot is pulled, and what the end result becomes. The grind on the espresso I used was a little finer than I would normally use in a standard machine for this reason: scientifically the act of pulling a shot for full extraction ability has obvious requirements: heat and pressure. I only had one, pressure.

2) Cold experiment – While using regular room temperature Vodka, Van Gogh Espresso Vodka, and Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur, one by one I sanitized the MyPressi between shots, and always made sure that the No2 cartridges gave just as much gusto as the previous shot. Cold, fresh, clean, filtered water was the other factor.

3) Cold observation – although the temperature of the end result was pleasant, I found the cold spirits in the cold unit not terribly “coffee” tasting.

1) Warm attempt – I figured the best way to solve my extraction issue was to use cold spirits in a scalding hot MyPressi unit.

2) Warm experiment – All of the removable components of the MyPressi were submerged in scalding hot water, dried and quickly reassembled. Ground espresso was added rapidly, tamped, and the unit was put back together. Without heating the spirits themselves, the heat from the unit helped extract sweet espresso flavour, without bitterness, plus a lovely layer of crema, which did not exist during the cold experiment.

3) Warm observation – the infusions were not hot per se in the end, but they were slightly warmer than body temp which helped flourish the nose and palate of the spirit chosen for each shot. Our most successful infusions were Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Navan, Housemade Chocolate Vermouth, Ricard, and Housemade Plum Bitters. All of the shots were used in different variations of our Coffee Old Fashioned, which is now a popular “dry” staple on our dessert cocktail list at the Refinery.


Compared to the long infused Coffee Bitters I have made at the Refinery in the past, the MyPressi alleviated the bitterness that I have often found with straight-up coffee bean infusions. But alas they are BITTERS in the end. Science rules when you can just constantly deduct from reasoning.

Enjoy the pictures.

Posted in coffee & tea, libations, spirits | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Groundhog Day + Whiskey = Love.

Bourbon Country - Makers Mark Property

The second installment in the Refinery’s whiskey seminar series is a definitive look at Bourbon Whiskey. As it has claimed many people’s hearts in the past, let us indulge your palates on Tuesday February 2, 2010. What better host than one of Vancouver’s most respected “bourbon” personalities, Maker’s Mark Brand Ambassador, Mr. Ron Oliver. Along with the obvious inclusion of Maker’s Mark, Mr. Oliver will be guiding guests through three other expressions in the Maker’s Mark portfolio, including “1 Day Old” through to “Over Mature” – this will effectively showcase the evolution of Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey. Additionally, Mr. Oliver will guide guests through two other American whiskey styles. As informative as it is delicious, the whiskey seminar will be accompanied by some fantastic cheese, charcuterie, and other goodies The Refinery is well known for. Oh, and let’s go completely overboard and start everyone with a cocktail.

Cost: $45 (+ tax and gratuity) includes 6 whiskies, handouts and food.
Date: Groundhog Day, Tuesday Febraury 02, 2010.
Where: The Refinery, 1115 Granville St (above SIP)
Time: We will begin promptly at 8:00pm, please be on time.
Space is limited to 25 people. To reserve, please send an email to (quoting BOURBON WHISKEY SEMINAR in the subject line). All rsvp’s will be confirmed by email. Please include first and last name, number of guests and phone number to secure your spot(s).

For additional information, please contact Lauren Mote at (604)687-8001.

Posted in events, spirits | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cornucopia: Reflections of a Seasoned Alcoholist

by Lauren Mote (original story can be seen at

We ended one festival to start another. After Victoria’s Art of the Cocktail was successfully put to bed the previous weekend in Victoria, Cornucopia, Whistler’s celebration of wine and food, was just stepping on the stage in the snowy coastal mountains 100 km in the other direction.

For us industry folk who are regularly flooded with invitations to attend quarterly IVSA wine exhibitions and private portfolio tastings, finding the time for another booze festival was a tough call, but with snow billowing down, I high tailed it on the much improved Sea to Sky highway to arrive at the pre-Olympic buzzing resort community ready to imbibe. Standing in the centre of town with tickets to some of the best events in my hot hands, I jumped in head first.

Let’s talk trade tasting: The Crush Gala, spread over two days, is Cornucopia’s flagship wine tasting event with over 75 wineries participating. Crush is always a successful crowding of the best and worse dressed of the festival, a phenomenal place to watch and partake in drunken humour and a wicked party to boot. But more importantly, it is a rather gigantic showcase of fantastic wineries from here and abroad with a few local spirit favourites like the Pemberton Distillery, makers of Schramm, a high-quality artisan vodka, found nestled in between. For those looking to expand and explore the range of their palates or just annihilate them, this was the place to do it.

Friday: Casino Royale
Ever since the Bearfoot Bistro’s owner Andre Saint Jacques threw the last of the legendary Masquerave parties in 2006, after nearly a decade of over the top decadence that mashed together endless Champagne, haute cuisine, costumes, nude body painted models, naughty dancers, and an “anything goes” attitude, Casino Royale at Ric’s Grill has been deemed the new “after party”.masquerave-cancelledFor the third year in a row, Ric’s Grill hosted their high energy “Las Vegas” type evening to satisfy the many devilish alter egos craving the sexy carnival atmosphere that disappeared with the loss of Masquerave. Casino Royale really does look like it came right out of a Bond flick – gentlemen in their finest attire, whether done-up in a tux or dapper three piece suit, and the ladies dressed-to-impress – tall heels, showgirl makeup, sultry dresses. The card tables were filled with glowing pink faces, as wine bottles were poured out by the dozen until the wee hours of the morning, the party continued.

Saturday: Bubbles and Oceans
At the conclusion of Saturday evening’s Crush Gala trade tasting, the doors swung open to my favourite venue, Araxi, for their long-standing and always sold-out Bubbles and Oceans soiree. Red carpets lined the cobblestone leading up to the entrance as the winter snow was swept away by a light gusting wind.

Just then I thought I could not consume another drop of wine, but I managed to convince my tired over-worked liver that Champagne and other bubbly bevies were actually held and processed in a different part of my body… seasoned professionals like me don’t stop until we’re lured out by security, don’t you know?

The spread was immaculate – wine reps Risha Gorkoff (Select Wines) and Paul Jordan (Stile Wines) seduced me with a more than generous 4 oz pour – I guzzled; I repeated. The bubbling beauties from Catalunya cleansed my tortured palate for the first hour.

After being escorted away from the dessert towers I eyeballed for most of the night, Brook Cairns (Whistler Brewing) and I enjoyed some much needed R&R with hand rolled sushi and Lanson Black Label, followed by Michaela Morris and Michelle Bouffard (House Wine) entertaining me with stories of their most recent travels to New Zealand.

The bubbles were free-flowing like a beautiful golden river I’d happily float down any day of the year. And just as I returned to indulge in the seductive dessert tower, with those delicious little macaroons within reach, I’m grabbed by someone else and dragged back to my sixth, or was it seventh, flute of bubbly. A wonderful party at one Canada’s best restaurants and kudos to Top Table publicist Shelley McArthur for pulling it all off while simultaneously launching three cookbooks!

All in all, Cornucopia, is still a great party, educational and interesting, even for us jaded booze professionals and well worth the journey to Whistler for the weekend.

And that was just another weekend in the life of a beverage and lifestyle aficionado. Upon my quick return to Vancouver, a new series of alcohol-related events were just gearing up – the frantic start of another long Christmas season for the seasoned alcoholist. Cheers!

Posted in events, libations, wine | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boozing – The Christmas Cocktail Edition.

by Lauren Mote

Here is a list of delicious contemporary and “spins” on classic cocktails perfect for the holidays.

1) Best noggin’ your eggs have ever seen:
Single Serving:
1 cold organic whole egg
2 oz 35% cream
1/2 oz B & B (Brandy & Benedictine)
1/2 oz Madeira (I use Broadbent – available at BCL)
1 oz Anejo Rum (I’m a big fan of Barbancourt 15 yr, but for price and availability, go for Bacardi 8 yr, or even a stock Sailor Jerry’s Rum would be awesome)
1 oz Simple Syrup (if you want to remain kinda “healthy” you can try some alternative sweetners: agave syrup, organic cane syrup – at Refinery we use our charred american oak syrup)
1 dash bitters (at Refinery we use a 1/8 oz of house bitters, but you can dash one little smidgen of angostura)
Dry shake without ice. Add ice, shake insanely hard. Make it an uber frothy one.
Double strain into either a chilled cocktail glass or an old fashioned glass. Hit it with freshly grated nutmeg and/or cinnamon.
It’s delicious.
Yesterday I made 3L at Refinery – pour all the contents in a large jar, combine with hand-blitzer, shake with ice to order (2 portions fit comfortably in a boston shaker)

2) Kick Ass Cider:
you’ll need 7 days for the infusion.

4L Jug organic freshly pressed apple cider
500mL Torres Brandy (that’s how much I’d start with, but you may add more if required)

Toast and add the following:
Cinnamon Sticks
Long Pepper
All Spice
“PInch” Cardomom
“Pinch” Star Anise
White Pepper
Lemon/Orange Citrus peels
8-10 dashes angostura bitters

Cane or Raw Sugar Simple Syrup to taste (not sure how sweet the cider will still be after you fortify it)
Store in a cool dark place for a week
After a week, strain the bits out.
Serve to order for 300mL cup add a small knob of butter (optional but tastes amazing, and gives the “mouth feel” x 1/2 oz) and heat to serve – ummm I would avoid using a microwave, that’s just mental – use the old fashioned saucepan. :)

3) Feu de Camp “The Campfire Cocktail”
So, have you ever had squash in a cocktail? Sounds random, but I make random cocktails, using food a lot of the time. Makes the cocktail better for you, and more interesting. Check it:

Prep ahead of time: 1 butternut squash, halves, discard the guts. Brush with highest grade maple syrup, and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast until tender. Puree with 250mL Madeira in the food processor. Push through a tami, food mill or fine chinois until smooth.
In your shaker:
2 bar spoons (1 1/2 oz butterbut squash puree)
2 oz Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 oz Mead Honey Wine
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 – 1/2 oz highest grade maple syrup (to taste, may need to adjust based on the sugar content of the squash)
1/2 oz house bitters (or 3 dashes angostura bitters)
Shake vigorously with ice, double strain into old fashioned glass.
This cocktail has a rich heavy mouth feel from the squash which is awesome.
It’s quite aromatic, and delightfully acidic with the mead and madeira added – as a garnish (optional) you can light the end of a cinnamon stick on fire, and rest it on top of the cocktail for that wintry smokey thingy.
It’s kick ass.

4) Tea Marteani
Pick a gin. Pick a tea. Pick a glass.
This is one of the most successful tea infusion recipes, that I use often whenever I change the tea marteanis on my menu. I have two people to thank for the kick start: Audrey Saunders (NY) and Christopher Flett (Vancouver) – BUT the seasonal inspirations come strictly from my Refinery staff and I.

Gin – giv’er with a good quality one. Just like in cooking, if you weren’t willing to drink the wine, why USE the wine? Tanqueray and Beefeater are good, and reasonably priced choices.

Tea – pick something you’d LIKE to drink. Nothing’s more disgusting then drinking a cocktail with licorice infused “sleepy time” laxative
tea. Gross. Maybe I decide to do a “colon blow” cocktail list it’ll make the top 5… but unlikely.

Here are some suggestions:
Earl Grey
Chai Tea
Vanilla Oolong (my favourite)

Your infusion times may very between the teas, depending on the tannins in the leaves, and the strength of the tea’s initial flavour.
Quality counts, so pick a good quality, loose or bagged tea (empty the contents). I prefer organic/fair trade but that’s a personal preference.

Infuse 7-8 tsp (or 7-8 bags) into a 750mL bottle, shake once. Strain contents after 3 – 6 hours (again depending on the tea’s strength).

Use this basic recipe:
1 cold organic egg white
1 1/2 oz tea infusion
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 oz organic cane syrup (or simple syrup)

Dry shake, then shake with ice.
Double strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

All recipes are ©Poivre Media Co. c/o Lauren Mote 2007-2009

Posted in recipes, spirits | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment