Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Food News’ Category

Ingredient Profile: Black Garlic

Black garlic bulbs at Whole Foods Market

It’s no secret that there are trends in foods – and one ingredient we’re starting to see on menus more and more frequently is black garlic.

What is black garlic, exactly?

Black garlic is simply fermented white garlic – no other fancy gimmicks or ingredients (and no panic necessary for soy-averse gluten free diets).

It’s possible to make your own by keeping whole heads of garlic in a warm humid environment for 3 to 5 weeks, though this does come with it the environmental downside of leaving your oven on 140C /280F the whole time.

(Plus, “fermenting” and “look it up on the internet” aren’t necessarily good food safety companions.)

With any trendy food comes the inevitable claims of Super Amazing Health Benefits (now with more Omega-3s!), so take from it what you will that it’s meant to have double the amount of antioxidants of non-fermented garlic, and claims it’s a new superfood.

But let’s get down to the good stuff – how does it taste and what do you do with it?

Black garlic cloves take on the texture of roasted garlic (albeit a touch more firm)

First off, you can eat it raw if you’re so inclined. The flavour is incredibly mild and a touch sweet, almost like a firm textured roasted garlic but leaning towards a balsamic vinegar or tamarind tanginess.

General guidance is to cook with it as you would use normal garlic – but beware, the inky colour does transfer so if you didn’t want grey ricotta or eggs you may wish to hold off.

I tried it in two recipes:

– Sliced and mixed with maple, orange zest and pomegranate molasses served over roasted duck breast. The flavour didn’t really stand out and I couldn’t quite figure out what the hype is about (though it does look like the poor man’s truffle).

– Sautéed with shallots in an asparagus risotto. You can see I wasn’t kidding about the colour transfer thing – besides the garlic, the only ingredients are shallots, leeks, asparagus, arborio rice, white wine and clear vegetable stock.

Asparagus risotto with black garlic and leek.

Now I get the hype – and it’s spot on! The flavour of black garlic was very rich and pronounced and I will say it added so much to the dish I didn’t need nearly the level of salt and parmesan I usually sneak into risotto.

(Plus, it had the added benefit of covering up the slightly charred leeks that I meant to caramelize gently.)

Quality & Storage

It’s not the most common product to find so you may not be able to pick and choose when it comes to quality. If you’re going to make it yourself, it’s crucial to start with the highest quality garlic because the fermentation process intensifies flavours.

I was advised to keep it in a paper bag if I would use it within a month, or in the fridge to keep for longer than that.

So, how to find this magic ingredient?

In Vancouver you can find it at both South China Seas Trading Co and Whole Foods Market (Cambie). Rumor has it that it’s available at San Francisco’s Berkeley Bowl as well.

Where have you found black garlic? 

Any tips or discoveries in cooking with it?

McDonald’s Revealing Burger Ad Secrets

Yesterday, McDonald’s Canada treated their audience to an inside look at why the burgers in McDonald’s ads look so much more appetizing than the ones you get when you actually purchase one for yourself. See the video below:

The Secret To Beautiful Burgers

The secret to the beautiful burgers in McDonald’s advertisements won’t surprise you. It amounts to a few diligent hours of preparation by food stylists topped off with a Photoshop touch-up session; much as you’d expect for a human model about to find him/herself on the cover of a fashion magazine.

No big surprises there, but some of you are probably surprised (or skeptical) that the ingredients they use are the same as the ones used in the store.

Nevertheless, there are a few interesting takeaways.

Authentic Stories Resonate With Consumers

The days of food brands marketing their products based solely on claims like “Tastes Better” and “Less Fat” are now over. When McDonald’s overtly makes moves to establish consumer trust by effectively showing their boxer shorts on the internet, you can be assured they know it’s worth the risk of blowback. They believe that so earnestly, they’re addressing an un-authentic marketing tactic in an authentic way. We all know that addressing your weaknesses is an effective way to build trust.

Takeaway: Do you know that your customers have questions you haven’t answered? It’s time to step up to the plate with answers.

Social Engagement Is Paramount

McDonald’s Canada is using social media and a question-answer engagement website to connect with their customers. They’re fielding question from their audience on a daily basis, and you can imagine that consumers have a lot of questions for McDonald’s. Often when a controversial food brand open up a forum like that, they face the most challenging questions first.

They’re taking this to the next level by answering questions using video, and putting the people behind their brand front and center. They’re humanizing the corporation, which is one of the very best ways for companies to use social media.

Takeaway: If McDonald’s is willing to tell their story on social media, how long can you get away with staying quiet?

Authenticity Is Becoming More Authentic

Vancouver Farmers Markets 2012 Summer @vanmarkets via @miss604

Local blogger Miss604’s got a great roundup of this season’s Vancouver farmers markets. Don’t forget to grab our iPhone app to promote the local producers and show the community what’s fresh near them!

via @miss604:

Trout Lake Farmers Market (foodtree profile)

Location: North Parking Lot of John Hendry Park at Trout Lake
Dates: Saturdays, May 12, 2012 to October 20, 2012
Hours: 9:00am to 2:00pm each week

Kitsilano Farmers Market (foodtree profile)

Location: Parking Lot of Kitsilano Community Centre (2690 Larch at 10th)
Dates: Sundays, May 20, 2012 to October 21, 2012
Hours: 10:00am to 2:00pm each week

West End Farmers Market (foodtree profile)

Location: 1100 Block of Comox across from Nelson Park at Mole Hill
Dates: Saturdays, June 2, 2012 to October 20, 2012
Hours: 9:00am to 2:00pm each week

Main Street Market (foodtree profile)

Location: Main Street Station at Thornton Park (across from the train station)
Dates: Wednesdays, June 6, 2012 to October 3, 2012
Hours: 3:00pm to 7:00pm each week

Kerrisdale Village Farmers Market (foodtree profile)

Location: East Boulevard between 37th and 41st (near Kerrisdale Arena)
Dates: Saturdays, July 7, 2012 to October 6, 2012
Hours: 10:00am to 2:00pm each week

See you all at the markets!

Trivia: Trout Lake Farmers Market is the very first business record ever on Foodtree!

The Changing Face of Farming: Urban CSA #realfood

CSAs move into towns and cities…

Community supported agriculture is a great way to take a step closer to the food you are eating, allowing you to know exactly where your food is coming from, who’s growing it and how it’s being grown. CSAs have been around for a while, but in recent years local farms have taken a step closer to your table at home: they are filling in the spaces in our towns and cities.

Urban farmers like Emi Do are ring fencing agricultural areas as cities grow around them, as well as finding unconventional spots to produce food on a small local scale.

“By bringing farming to the city, we are in essence bringing food production closer to the people it feeds. I love that I get to engage in dialogue with my neighbors and that my profession is one that nourishes them.”

Urban farms are wide spread enough now that you can almost guarantee that every city will have one or two, and you might be surprised at the growing power these small corners of land have, we’re not talking the occasional lettuce here. When I stopped by Yummy Yards in Vancouver Emi explained to me that this season she is growing: kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach, salad greens, arugula, cabbages, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, onion, kohlrabi, leeks, scallions, garlic, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, beans, peas, eggplant, peppers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, basil, and more!

It’s great for the community!

While urban farms can and do supply restaurants and markets, the real power of these projects is that they can provide the communities around them with food via Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

If you are in Vancouver you can find out more about Yummy Yards’ CSA here, or Yummy Yards’ Foodtree page here. Aternatively investigate your local CSA scene to find something similar near you!

7 Delicious Google logos (Doodles) that might make you hungry

Did you know that every once in a while, Google changes their homepage logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists?

They call the logo drawings and animations Doodles, and what started out as a gaff has become a tradition that users anticipate and even collect in some cases.

The first Doodle was a stick figure letting users know that Larry and Sergey (founders) were out of the office attending Burning Man, a cultural festival in the desert. A year later intern Dennis Hwang did a Doodle for Bastille Day and was anointed Head Doodler; he now leads the team of designers and engineers that produce the company’s Doodles.

Today we thought it’d be fun to look back at some of the food-focused Doodles that have delighted users around the world. There are plenty, so we’ve picked a few favorites!

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s 118th Birthday

To honor the scientist who discovered Vitamin-C, the Doodle Team turned Google into the distributor of all things rich in Vitamin-C content!

This was the first concept drawing:

Which turned into this finished logo:

More details here.

Magusto 2011

From the Doodle site: “Magusto” is a Portuguese tradition celebrated by all generations: from grandparents, to moms and dads, and little children. On this day, people come together to eat chestnuts, drink new wine and mingle with friends and family.

More details here.

Canadian Thanksgiving 2009

Google swaps their logo pretty much every Thanksgiving holiday, but their ’09 Canadian Thanksgiving logo really stands out, mostly because it’s entirely one color!

More details here.

Valentine’s Day 2007

Valentine’s Day is another regular Doodle holiday, but this subtle offering in 2007 conjures up the delicious memories of chocolate covered strawberries.

Details here. More Valentine’s doodles.

Persian New Year 2009

Shown in United Arab Emirates & Afghanistan in March of ’09, this elegant logo is likely an unknown to most of us.

Details here.

Tomato Festival 2008

In honor of Spain’s Tomato festival, this juicy logo was displayed in August of 2008. This is the festival dubbed Tomatina, during which there’s what amounts to a massive tomato food fight!

Details here.

Halloween 2011

This is probably the most impressive effort yet; imagine putting much effort into your company’s logo for one day!

This is the video that lived on the homepage and showed users the process of carving the massive pumpkins:

And here’s the behind the scenes video:

More details here.

What are you favorites?

Head over to the Doodle site to check out the hundreds of Doodles from Google over the years. There’s a nice little blurb on the history of Doodles there too. Let us know which ones are your favorites!

Why Vancouver Restaurant Owners Are Putting QR Codes On Their Menus (And You Should Too)

Restaurants are often proud of who they're sourcing from, and this is a simple way to let their customers join them in celebrating the farms, wineries, breweries, and other artisans that put food on the best menus in town.

Read more

3 Free 4-Star Grocery List Apps for Smartphones You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Whether or not you like the process of shopping for food, the key to a successful trip to the grocery store is putting together a good list. Sometimes this can make all the difference in not forgetting about the toilet paper or dish soap you so badly need.

I was curious to see how many different apps for grocery shopping are available on the market, and of course there are many. For the purposes of our list, I decided to focus on apps rated with at least four stars and that are free to download. The grocery app world is full of apps that cost money, but these three do a great job despite without costing you extra money!

OurGroceries by Headcode.

Rated 4 stars. Free Download.

I have the OurGroceries app and use it for weekly food shopping. What I like about it is my partner and I can share one shopping list between our two iphones and we both have the ability to add items. It has a very simple interface that allows us to create multiple lists according to where we shop, or even break down needed items into recipes. As you shop the items can be crossed off with one click, and all items are saved to be added another time.

Available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

Grocery Smart by Handmark Inc.

Rated 4.5 stars. Free Download.

Grocery Smart sounds similar to OurGroceries. It supports syncing and sharing lists across multiple users and devices. Users can also add items via a web interface that can be updated to the app. This is really useful when one member of the family doesn’t have a smartphone, but they do have the internet and a computer. Lists can be organized by store, and also sorted by department, and items can be checked off as you shop.

Available for iPhone & Android.

Simple Grocery List by Route 1 Software.

Rated 4 stars. Free Dowload.

The Simple Grocery List app aims to be as simple as the paper list you once kept on your fridge (or still do). It comes pre-loaded with the most common grocery items, which you can rearrange, add to, or delete as you need. Lists can be emailed from your device and also imported into the app from email. There are also multiple themes available for you to customize the interface.

Available for iPhone.

Do you have a favorite shopping list app we haven’t mentioned here?

Please tell us about it the comments!

Image by Sarah on Foodtree.