Foodosophy Year End Review – 2009


First off, Happy Holidays everyone!!

In looking back over the past year, I realize that in pursuit of my passion on a day to day basis, that I am always learning. Eating out, discussing food, sourcing ingredients, cooking, it all affords us the opportunity to learn. But while i learn something every day, there are those “A-ha!” moments that you have that stick with you. That change how you look at a cuisine, an ingredient, or a dish.

We started Foodosophy 18 months ago for a variety of reasons, but one of the primary ones was to learn from other people, and to share what we learn. I thought it would be a nice way to end the year by sharing, and encouraging everyone else to share things that they’ve learned.

So without further adieu, I would like to present my Top 5 things I learned in 2009.

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Café Muse – Vancouver, BC


Café Muse
2305 41st Ave. W
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-2948

First off, loved the name of this place.  And no I’m not a fan of the band.

My visit was on a dreary winter weekend morning – a perfect time to get a quick cup of hot coffee, something to nibble on and work on the laptop with free wi-fi as I killed some time before a meet up with a friend.  I wasn’t alone, as several others had the same idea, some even pulling out those dreaded computers with a piece of fruit as their logo.

With a wide open glass facing, the entrance area is nice and bright.  Towards the back are more tables but feels darker and enclosed.  Why people would want to sit there when you can be in natural light is beyond me.  Pleasant and boisterous welcome from the folks behind the counter, make this place feel pretty homey.

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Uncle John’s – Crawfordsville, AR


Uncle John’s
5453 Main Street
Crawfordsville, AR  72327
(870) 823-5319

Heading to Memphis, there were a lot of different food experiences we wanted to try. Unfortunately, as on most trips, we had way more places to try than we had meals. For BBQ, there was a lot of debate: Central, Paynes, Interstate, Rendezvous, BBQ Shop, Neely’s.  Fried chicken lead to a similar debate. We knew what we wanted to try, and it was tough choosing one or two places to hit up. For catfish though, there was no question. We had to go to Uncle John’s.

Now, being no more knowledgeable of local geography than what i saw on a map, I had no idea that Arkansas was that close to Memphis. And while i’m not the biggest fan of checklist tourism, I do wish to visit all 50 states at some point, and this was an easy chance to knock one off. Crawfordsville AK is only roughly 30 minutes from downtown Memphis.

Uncle John’s is ostensibly an “Italian” restaurant, but they serve many Southern specialties as well. And on Friday’s, they have a catfish special that is regarded by many to be the best catfish they’ve had.

As we pulled up, everything screamed small town. There was a bench, complete with two suspicious locals who eyed us with trepidation as too many people emerged from a too small rental vehicle, quietly celebrating the end of our torturous ride. They were not impressed. I’m not sure I was that impressed either.

The exterior was a clean, nondescript building with a painting of what I can only assume is the proprietor. It was definitely a bit more modern than i was expecting.

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Hi Genki – Burnaby, BC


Hi Genki
6680 Southoaks Crescent
Burnaby, BC
(604) 777-0533

December 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

定食

Teishoku.  Often referred to as ‘set meals’, although not always strictly following that definition in Japanese eateries.  Originally, the collection of several dishes in a combination, priced to be lower than if one was to order them individually, is often thought of as the reason this particular genre developed in dining out lingo.  The basic tray generally includes a bowl of steamed white rice, miso shiru (miso soup), a tsukemono (pickled vegetable) of some kind, and a main dish (be it grilled, raw, fried, stewed, noodles, etc.) of some kind.  To me, it reminds me of student cafeterias or lunch time hangouts for the white collar crowd where I had these many a time in Japan.

So it was no surprise that at Hi Genki which was essentially the dining area, very much cafeteria-like except there was table service, of a senior citizens home next to the Nikkei Place (home of the the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre) the menu was lined with several teishoku offerings.  I’d been forewarned that the clientele there could be more of the gray hair crowd but to our surprise it was mostly filled with young people, lots of couples in fact.  None of whom appeared to be there visiting any aging relatives.  A virtual full house, couldn’t be bad, could it?

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Central BBQ – Memphis, TN


Central BBQ – Central Avenue Location
2249 Central Ave.
Memphis,TN 38104
(901) 272-9377

Every Southern State (and sorry purists, I include Texas in the South – well, when it comes to BBQ anyway) believes their version of BBQ is the best. In travelling from State to State, I’ve come to recognize that the differences are not as great as they would have you believe. Yes, there are very fine differences in flavours, sauces, and ingredients, but most people would have a difficult time discerning these. These days, there has been so much cross-pollination of ideas and accessibility of ingredients, that i find BBQ is more about style, skill, and choice.

The greatest differences in BBQ come down to two key things: wet or dry, and choice of ingredient. While many people claim that Memphis-style BBQ is about wet (sauce) BBQ and pork, I found wet and dry preparations of ribs in most establishments. And while they also  serve mostly pork, there was some beef, and  there was a lot of  poultry (chicken, turkey) as well. Choice of wood, temperature, time, rub, I don’t feel there is  “regional” exclusivity any longer. I’ve even seen mesquite, traditional Texas smoking wood,  used in Memphis BBQ preparations.

So the question meat lovers need to ask is not “which state has the best BBQ”, but which establishment serves the best BBQ that they prefer.  Central BBQ is one place in Memphis trying to stake their claim.

Central BBQ has two locations in Memphis, but I was reassured by locals that the original location on Central Ave was the one to go to. As we pull up, we see a smoke shack in the back, billowing smoke into the atmosphere, a fragrant, delicious smell. Our appetites are immediately whetted.

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Arcade Restaurant – Memphis, TN


Arcade Restaurant
540 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 526-5757

Food Network. Tourist destination. Foodies declare a “must visit”. It seems every town has one or two of these. Either featured on “Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dive’s”, or some other equally “Middle America” kind of show, it is usually an old institution that is still “doing it the old way”, and everyone loves the nostalgia. In Memphis, you have the Peabody Hotel, and you have Arcade Restaurant.

The claim to fame for Arcade Restaurant is that they are the oldest restaurant in Memphis. Located in downtown Memphis, a neighbourhood currently undergoing some “gentrification”, they even claim Elvis as a former regular customer. Considering some of the stories you hear about downtown, Arcade Restaurant resides in a fairly nice part of downtown.

The interior is all old school – I half expected to see Elvis sitting somewhere eating deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches after walking inside. This preserved interior has been the set for many Hollywood films. And they proudly state it. I actually kind of like it. While it doesn’t match my usual preferences for decor, it has character. LOTS of character.

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Black Diamond – Memphis, TN


Black Diamond
153 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 521-0800

When you think Beale Street, most people think Blues. BB King. Smoky dive bars, neon lights. In actual fact, it is crowded with tourist bars, clubs, and a lot of tourists. Except for the Black Diamond.

We didn’t plan on coming here. Our plan was to go to Dyer’s for some fried burgers. But they were closed. And an impromptu torrential downpour meant we had to seek shelter, especially when caught without an umbrella – a bad decision in Memphis in general. We found a place that was close, and not overly crowded. “Black Diamond” written in neon. Sure, why not.

Plastic chairs and dirty tables. Locals who didn’t appreciate their space being invaded. Smoking indoors (ack!). There were no blues, but there was football. And beer. Cold beer.

People would expect places like the Black Diamond to have bad service – well surprisingly enough, it was quite good. The server was friendly, and efficient. And he brought beer, menus, and took our orders. No complaints.

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