Category Archives: Love, Romance and Comfort Foods

Banana coconut rum upside down cake (gluten free)

Recipe and photos by Rita Anastasiou.

banana-coconut upside down cake 3

It all started with a failed attempt to make a healthy dessert… It was one of those days again,when I was trying so desperately to trick my sweet tooth with plain bananas…! One thing brought another,I realized I had in my pantry Malibu Rum and all the ingredients for a cake. It’s not any kind of cake! It’s one of the most  moist,rich,fluffy upside down cake you’ve ever had! The caramelized bananas pair beautifully with the warm spiced and the coconut rum! The kitchen bathes with the aromas of the baked bananas…  Try to refuse a piece of cake like this!

banana-coconut upside down cake 2

banana-coconut upside down cake

Eatin’s Canada February

I read something recently on twitter on a new follower’s page:

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.

To Achieve

That kind of describes Eatin’s Canada. I knew what I wanted to do, but there just wasn’t time. I looked ahead and couldn’t for the life of me imagine when there would be. So, I just did it anyway. That fact means the first few months are going to be a scramble, developing the editorial calendar and building the site.

Thankfully, several people have offered to participate in this project. Thanks to Glen Synogrand (recipes and photography), Wayne Kwok (coffee, reviews and essays) , Gaddabout Eating (restaurant reviews, recipes), Lindiwe Sithole (recipes, particularly form Zimbabwe), Ryan Wolman (recipes and essays about food), Alison Cole (vegan cookbook  and recipe reviews), Gurpreet Chana, and others to be announced soon. I am thrilled to have each of them participating and look forward to their contributions.

Eatin’s Canada has several goals, providing recipes obviously, but more than that, looking at how to cook so that one need not be dependent on products or fast food for everything in your life.

So, there are two sections with recipes, one, imaginatively entitled: Recipes for meals for one or two people, and one titled Putting Food By, for making food in large quantities, either for preserving, freezing, or cellaring, or for entertaining large groups. By the time the end of the year rolls around, we’ll have gone through a full cycle of preserved food recipes that provide a foundation for a wide range of other dishes.

This month our recipes section features Zimbabwean traditional foods from Lindiwe Sithole, pickles from GaddAbout Eating, and Indian Chilly Chicken from Gurpreet Chana.

There are Reviews, and a Review/Directory for food products, restaurants and tools, because while in my mind, one should be capable of making pretty much everything you need to live a comfortable life, you should have options. With few exceptions, reviewed products are from small to medium family owned companies or collectives. They are not all available in Canadian stores…yet.

The directory contains only those products that have been favourably reviewed. Product reviews are skewed to the positive side mainly because I personally prefer to review the products I like…not the least of which is because if I don’t like a product, I stop eating it and really have little to say on the topic. If it was sent for review, I look for a colleague whose taste I trust, to try it and if they like it, to comment on my behalf.

Restaurant reviews are more likely to have some negative content, as food is seldom so poor one leaves the restaurant with the plate untouched, and the spend is generally higher than with ingredients. People really need to be told if the experience is not going to match their investments of time and money.

Food for Thought is the editorial piece and will also eventually be a section with articles from multiple contributors looking at issues related to food. This month we have Alison Cole of Animal Voices with an article and radio interview about the human cost of the chocolate industry.

I grew up in the food industry. in gumboots on the floor of the family business, a fish plant. Food is personal for me. All of it, how to really cook in a way that is a joyful and social part of life, how we treat food, how it is produced, how we treat the animals and plants that we eat before we eat them, quality of life for farmers and their workers.

I want Eatin’s Canada to present some of the most forward thinking ideas about humane food production. Sometimes that will come out of a piece written for us, and sometimes its going to be content that we find and present here with an introduction.

Both written in house and curated here.   Food is central to our lives, we need it, and to get it, we have to kill. It is one of the things that we share with all other living beings on the planet. Everything that lives eats something that used to live. I believe that we should respect our food and the gift that it gave us.

I think preparing food beautifully, so that it tastes wonderful is part of honouring what we eat.   The same is true of how we produce food. We are part of a chain of life, with  extraordinary power to affect everything else in the chain.   Many places, but this month, let’s talk about the children of the chocolate industry and  returning humanity to the food industry.

Passion for Coffee

Sure, Valentine’s Day can be seen as a commercialized holiday to sell more flowers and chocolate. I choose to use this occasion as a chance to contemplate love beyond its traditional associations. I’d like to reflect on my passion for coffee and explore my relationship with it a little bit deeper.

To get a cup of specialty coffee with clear distinct flavours and complex aromas, it takes many dedicated and passionate people. Those artisans didn’t just show up, put in their hours, and go home without another thought about work until the next shift. They put a lot of time and thought into how to make your cup better. You may be surprised at how the decisions they have made directly impact what you taste.

It all starts with the farmer. Pete Licata, 2013 World Barista Champion, describes the farmer as the “cultivator of potential”. The farmer chooses which varietals to grow and nurture for five or more years before the first harvest. The Arabica species (Coffea arabica) that’s used for specialty coffee[1] requires a lot more care, is harder to grow, and produces much lower yields than the Robusta species (Coffea canephora) that’s more commonly used for commodity coffee. An Arabica tree yields about one pound of un-roasted coffee per year.

Coffee cherries do not all ripen at the same rate. To get optimal and consistent results, workers hand-pick the most developed and mature specialty Arabica cherries. Some farmers go so far as to use refractometers to measure the sugar content of the cherries. A similar practice is used by grape producers in the wine industry. Higher sugar content in the cherry means the seeds (beans) are going to have higher sugar and carbohydrate content, resulting in a sweeter cup.

After the cherries are harvested, they are processed by wet, dry, or a hybrid method. The choice in processing method affects the coffee’s brightness, complexity, clarity, and body. Some regions have little access to water, so the decision is easy. Where there is an option, the processing method used can accentuate the beans natural attributes or balance them out.

Licata feels the roaster’s job is to unlock the potential that the farmer put into the coffee. Control over time and temperature of the roast allows the roaster to choose the balance of brightness, body, and sweetness. Beans can be sold as single origin to draw attention to the character of a varietal and how it might be affected by the terroir and other factors. Blending beans is an art in itself. A good blend becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

As a barista, the last thing I want to do is squander the efforts of the people that have impacted the coffee before me. I screw up one shot and that’s 6% of a tree’s annual yield into the composter. When I get it right, I’m able to use the variables of extraction to bring forward my favourite characteristics of the coffee. The barista is the last, and likely the only person in the coffee production chain that you will meet. The passion that you might see from me as your barista is not mine alone. When I’m able to see the metaphorical fingerprints of the farmer and roaster in the coffee, that excites me and I can’t help sharing that emotion with you.

[1] Arabica is used for specialty coffee, but not all Arabica coffees carry the specialty rating.

GaddAboutEating at Tibisti Grill

Article and photography by GaddAboutEating, Voiceover by Lew Williams. 

February is the Month of Love.

I love food.  I love sharing food.  I love sharing food with the people I love.   It’s lovely.

I must have written about this place a half dozen times; visited too many times to count.   Watched, years ago, as the renovations were done to the space and were eager to see what was being brought to life in the neighborhood.  (I really don’t have to GaddAbout very far in order to enjoy some incredible food). Tibisti has that ‘family’ feel;  you will be welcomed on your first visit and treated as if you were a long-time friend.

Tibisti baclawaAbsolutely the BEST baclawa.  Yes I realize I am reviewing the last part of the dinner first.  I cannot be expected to leave the best to last.

Best Baclawa Ever.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  My partner theorized that the key was in the honey used.    When complemented on its excellence the chef said it’s his specialty – a secret.  I asked if the secret was the honey or the sweet water he used;   I got  no reply from him other than ‘he makes his own syrup”.  So it remains a mystery…. but isn’t that what magic is all about?

…and why should I have to save the best for last?…

Mirgaz or Merguez.   What a lovely word.   What delicious food.  It’s a North African and Middle Eastern food.  Spiced ground meat with seasonings.  Sometimes it is put into a casing – made into a sausage. Tibisiti style is wrapped on flat long skewers and grilled.  Fresh.

Tibisti hummusHummous.   The food of the gods.  An ancient food made with basic ingredients.   Delicious and freshly made and like everything else at Tibisti:  it is the best.

Tender, lemony roasted potatoes.   Drool factor about Tibisti lemon roast potatoesan 11 on a scale of 10.   I’m making myself hungry while I’m typing this up.  I’ve managed to figure out a fairly decent recipe for making these at home but no matter what I do – they are never as good as the real thing made by Chef Mohammad at Tibisti.

Tibisti ribeye steak dinnerHalal meat from the butcher’s case, sliced fresh and grilled to  absolute perfection.  Tender and tasty.

Tibisti offers an eat-in, take out grill with a variety of tender and juicy Lebanese and South Asian dishes.  Great service and atmosphere. When they say “This is the best ______ you’ve ever had”, they’re telling the truth.

Tibisti Foods & Grill
(604) 737-1000
6990 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC

Green Tomato Pickle Relish

Green Tomato Pickle Relish is a delicious condiment and a great use for green tomatoes of any kind.  Tomatoes can be diced for a fine relish, or cut in chunks or sliced to make a tomato pickle.   I like both and I usually make a batch of each. Spice level can be adjusted by the use of hot peppers, or none.This is a wonderfully easy and delicious recipe.   Perfect for new cooks who might be wary of the home canning process (easy instructions here)or for those more experienced and looking to use up some of the tomatoes that remain green into our Canadian autumn.


Sadza is the Zimbabwean staple food. It is also a staple food in southern and east Africa. It is the same as ugali in Kenya, nsima in Malawi, fufu in Nigeria and papa in South Africa. Different types of meal can be used to make sadza/ isitshwala. Among these are: maize (corn) meal, sorghum meal and ground rice. Maize meal seems to be the most popular of these. This is a meal that most households will eat on daily basis and it is a rich source of carbohydrates. Serve with Curried Kale and Lindiwe’s Beef Stew.