Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Canada for lunch - and some things I just can't live without

Today I again broke my tradition of working through lunch to head out of my comfort zone of several square kilometers in Makati, for lunch at the EDSA Shangri-la. The Ambassador of Canada and the EDSA Shangri-la were hosting a preview lunch of Canadian food for select press, to introduce some of the food they're going to be serving at the Canadian food festival from Nov 8 at the hotel.


The moment I walked in, I saw many of my travel buddies including Claude Tayag and Mickey Fenix; and many other top food media. The main attraction, however, was the food; and everyone was raving about the fish counter set up along one side of the room which offered pan-seared arctic char with a maple black pepper and butter sauce (a dish from British Columbia), and roasted sablefish with a spiced maple mustard glaze (a dish from Vancouver Island). In addition, maple-cured spring salmon was being passed around as canapés. You get the picture. Canadians use their beloved maple syrup on practically everything, and with excellent results.


But before sampling the goodies, I said hello to the Canadian ambassador who was very excited for us to try everything. We were near a counter where a big slab of meat being was being chopped up into thin pieces the consistency of pastrami, drizzled with mustard and then slapped on with caramelized onions, and then stuffed into a bun of rye bread. These were Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches, and pretty much considered street food in that part of Canada, I was told. So, of course, I tried this first. Absolutely delicious.

I finished an entire sandwich in a couple of minutes and then went back for more. The second sandwich was still okay in terms of my caloric guilt. But when I went back a third time for the exact same sandwich, I finally told the chef: "Lose the bun please. Just chop up the meat and top it with all the trimmings, then place it on a plate for me."


And you know how many I had of those? I didn't count. But I certainly had enough to wonder if I'm going to still fit into that dress I'm planning to wear for AIESEC: ONE MORE NIGHT this Friday at the Peninsula Manila.

Anyway, the Canadian Ambassador and I were talking about the great things that have come out of Canada. Apparently, a whole lot of very famous entertainers are actually Canadian but few people know this because many of these entertainers moved to the States and became famous there first -- so most people think they're American instead of Canadian. Unless you really know your entertainment trivia, that is.

Celine Dion, for example, is actually Canadian. Of course many people probably knew that, but I didn't since I don't keep up with the entertainment world.


Another famous export of Canada is the Blackberry! Now THAT got my attention.

"Sir, I can't live without my Blackberry," I said, and he certainly looked pleased to hear that. He replied: "Can we quote you on that?"

Of course I told him how I've written quite a bit about my Blackberry adventures on this blog. And of course I had to tell him the story of the Tokyo earthquake, when I was stuck on top of a bridge and about to die, and then stuck for ten hours afterwards in the dead of winter somewhere between Tokyo and Narita Airport. Every single communication method had conked out except Blackberry and occasionally WiFi. And the WiFi certainly didn't last ten hours, so I was almost completely cut off from the rest of the world, save for my Blackberry and my prodigal friend J.

Click here to read
about my Blackberry in the Tokyo earthquake


Coincidentally, J and I had one of our longer BBM conversations yesterday about a couple of interesting things. And it ended with me giving him my analysis of his psyche -- all on BBM and while I was at a press conference for the Christmas tree project of the Dusit Thani Manila. So, as you can see, the Blackberry has multiple uses.

And when I left the lunch today, I got a nice little gift of a Blackberry case with the Canadian maple stitched onto it. Perfect, I thought. It's a refreshing change from the usual case -- and not that I ever kept my Blackberry in its official case, in the first place -- and a little hint of Christmas with the red design.


Don't miss this Canadian food festival at EDSA Shangri-la's HEAT from November 8. It's incredibly reasonable value at P1575++ and almost all the major ingredients including the beef, oysters and crabs, are being flown in from Canada just for this festival. That's as authentic as you can get without getting on a plane for Vancouver.

I'd already had a big lunch but I got very hungry just thinking about those Canadian oysters. And then EDSA Shangri-la's executive chef (who happens to be Canadian) comes up to me as I was talking to someone else about this, to add that Canadian crabs are just about the best in the world. That's just about all the incentive I need to get back to that part of town next month.

Oh. And don't even get me started about their pecan pies.

Travelife Magazine's
Oct-Nov 2011 Issue


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