Monday, June 13, 2011

New Blog Address... this one's not in action anymore

Hello everyone,
I've moved my blog over to this address, so if you want to follow Swallow Tail's adventures there... here it is...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And here come the holidays....

Wouldn't you rather be sipping some mulled wine by the fire instead of fighting the holiday traffic and crowds? I certainly would. So to help you get your relax on this holiday, Swallow Tail is offering an easy (and perfect) gift option for that special foodie in your life. The G.C.!

But instead of that impersonal gift card that says 'I bought this last minute at the 7-11' get them a personal culinary adventure! You can purchase gift certificates for any of Swallow Tail's tours and events, including snowshoeing, crab fishing, dinner at the Swallow Tail Secret Supper, and more. You can even get them a gift certificate for our upcoming Secret Supper Soiree. Send them on a night of secret, mysterious and stylish dining!

For more information on purchasing a gift certificate, email us or call us. You can also visit our site at for a full list of our foodie fun!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Smoking the *@!! out of Wild Salmon

With all this lovely fresh wild salmon being bandied about in BC, many of the chefs guesting at the supper club have been smoking up a storm. Here are some tips on how to make you own lightly smoked salmon as a main.

Buying the fish
Your smoked salmon is only as good as the fish itself, you can't fake freshness. Frozen is fine to buy though. Just make sure you bring the frozen fish back to room temperature slowly, run some cold water over it first and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to defrost. The meat will stay firm this way. Fresh fish is best though, for texture. In Vancouver, buy it at Stevenson Warf or at Granville Island right off the docks for the best price and quality. Organic Ocean is a great boat at Fishermans Warf, call them to check what time they will be at the dock. (604) 862-7192
If you have to buy it from a fish shop, make sure you smell the fish to make sure it doesn't smell fishy... sounds weird, I know. I never buy farmed salmon... it tastes like crap.

Preparing the fish
Here's a video on one way to fillet a salmon if you want to learn, otherwise, buy fillets. For this recipe, take the skin off the fillets and remove any pin bones with tweezers.

Curing the fish
Let the fillets sit at room temperature for a couple of hours covered well in a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and sugar, you can add other ingredients (cilantro, parsley, onion) as well to the mix. Don't cure or brine in metal dishes ever. Have fun experimenting. Rinse the mix off the fish and pat dry after. Air dry for 30 min.

Smoking the fish
1. Let's talk about wood first - hardwood is what you want for smoking. Fruit tree wood is the best, also, alder, maple or oak. Hickory and mesquite flavour is too strong for salmon. Soak the wood chips or small pieces for 1 hour in water before using.

2. Generally, you need to build a fire in one side of your BBQ with charcoal or wood. Wait till it produces good coals. Put the wet chips on the coals to get them smoking, then add the fish on the other side of the BBQ - so that it smokes, but only cooks minimally. Position the grill as far away from the flames as possible. Close the lid and let the smoke do it's work.

3. Leave the fish on for 15-40 minutes, depending on how much smoke flavour you want and how hot your fire is. Flip the fish at around the half time mark. Taste the fish at intervals to check the level of smoke flavour. Once you've reached the desired smoke level, remove the fish and finish cooking in the oven if necessary. Cook at 350F covered with foil until the fish is ready to eat at 140F, check with a meat thermometer (should be only a few minutes).

Tips for the truly dedicated smoker: Look on craigslist for "free fire wood", often you will find lots of fruit woods there (you have to season it then though - let it dry).
Buy a real smoker - with a separate smoke compartment away from the fire.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Syrah vs Shiraz... potato, patato?

Okay, what's the difference between shiraz and syrah? You probably know, right? If not, here's your nutshell. Same grape, different styles of wine. Syrah is the French style, usually, more austere, earthy, bacon, peppery notes. Shiraz is the Auz version, fruit forward, big, bold, in your face with a mace dealio. What they both have in common usually is the peppery, spicy notes, cassis or blackberry leaning fruit characters, high(ish) acid, easy tannins, medium to full body in weight, a lovely magenta colour at medium+ intensity (you can read text through your wine glass).

Here are some notes from a fun tasting we did the other day, all the wines can be purchased at Everything Wine in North Vancouver. We tasted all the wines without food first, then paired them with a black truffle salami, zucchini, tomato, fontina pizza - yum.

1. Paul Jaboulet Aine, Domaine de Thalabert, Crozes Hermitage, France, 2005 - $47.99
Winner! I loved this wine, though it didn't stand up to the pizza. Notes: Anise, caramel, plum, black cherry, pepper, cinnamon.
2. Young & Wyse, Okanagan Valley, BC, 2008 - $27.99
A good quality BC shiraz, really surprised me but didn't stand up to the Kangarilla for quality vs value. Notes: Tobacco, cassis, spice
3. Kangarilla Road, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2007 - $24.99
Winner! And look at that price! Notes: Big anise, candy, cassis, dill nose with a dusty, dark fruits palate. Paired well with bacon pizza.
4. Katnook, Founders Block, Coonawarra, 2006 - $19.99
Paled in comparison, but still a good shiraz. Notes: Earthy, vegetal, plum, mint nose. Blackberry, pencil shavings on the palate.
5. Sheridan Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington, 2005 - $62.99
You know when you suck it up and spend the wad on something and then it spits in your eye. This one spat in my eye. $60! Are you kidding me? I'd pay $25 for it. A real disappointment as I usually love Washington shiraz. Notes: Big blackberry almost port-esque leanings, slight smokey finish.

The nookiest Nook around - Best Vancouver Pizza

I'm not joking. The nook is the best pizza in Vancouver. If you are really nuts about another place, and are absolutely sure that it'll kick this restaurants ass, please email me toute suite. Otherwise, just go and be dazzled by some of the freshest food Vancouver has to offer. And that is their key, all the ingredients are perfect, I wonder what they'll do in winter for tomatoes though? I'll have to experiment through the year. Bon Appetite!

Try the liver pate and the anything with barrata on it, you won't be sad.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bread is life! Tuscan loaf cooked on the fire...

If only life could be this simple. Of all the bread that I've made, this one always gets the best compliments. This is the tuscan loaf with barrata cheese, heirloom tomatoes, dried olives and balsamic.

Fire Pit Bread instructions:
Mix a wet dough of 2.5 cups flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 tsp yeast, 2 tsp salt

Leave it for 18 hours or until bubbles start appearing in dough.
Flour your counter top heavily, turn out dough onto it, flour the top, fold dough 2 times on itself, let rest 15 min.
Put a tea towel into a bowl, flour heavily, turn dough into this bowl and cover with tea towel, rest 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Oil well (canola) and then heat Dutch oven on indirect fire heat (watch this video for tips on fire pit cooking) in pit on a few stones to keep it from direct contact with the coals. Clear coals to surround but not touch oven. Gently turn dough into oven, bake 20 min with cover on. Remove from heat, turn dough gently into pot. Cover and bake for 20 min. Remove lid and then bake another 10 min.

Lamb on a Spit, the best crispy skin I've ever tasted... meat lovers rejoice!

How to cook a lamb on a spit and be king for a day...
1. Select your meat team, these will be the bros/chiquitas that will be in it with you through thick and thin, putting out fires, turning, carving and sweating buckets. Choose wisely, don't pick the town drunk.2. Buy a 50 Lb lamb from your butcher if you are popular or less if you don't have many friends (1/2 lb per person approx.)

3. Get an electric rotisserie from your butcher(this is the easiest, $80 at Windsor Meats) or just a metal pole, securing brackets and 2 brackets to rest the spit, 2 halves of a steel drum and some wood charcoal. You can hand turn the meat or have the ease of a motor, it depends on how old school you want to kick it.

4. Watch this video for great details on how to secure the lamb to the spit and set up the coals

5. Cook a 50Lb lamb about 7 hours depending on the heat of your fire, you can use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb to check the 'doneness' - 140F for rare, 150F for medium

6. Stuff the cavity of the lamb with onions, lemons, Moroccan spices(cumin, Cayenne, kosher salt, pepper, ginger, cloves) and stitch up with butcher string.

7. Baste with olive oil and lemon, salting occasionally. An occasional IPA or ale poured over the lamb couldn't hurt either, one for you, one for the lamb.

This will make the best lamb you've ever tasted with perfect, crispy, slightly spicy, lemony skin. You don't need any sides, just eat the meat and drink some beer. C'est tout!