Thursday, June 21, 2012

Batch of links

- I went to see the van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery in Ottawa. Many of his paintings are assembled, on loan from various museums and private collectors; the focus is on the nature paintings he made during his years in France (1896-1890). There are also pieces of art whose style likely inspired him (Japanese woodblock prints, 19th century photographs, charcoal drawings, etc.). I liked discovering some of his lesser-known work and seeing his style emerge, though I admit that I would have liked to see more paintings. I particularly liked the two paintings below (View of Arles with Irises and Blossoming Almond Tree).

- Flynn McGarry, at 13 years old, is one of the hottest chefs around. This kid is awesome!

- Never buy a rotten avocado again. This tip, from Northwest Edible Life, is awesome! I already knew how to tell when an avocado is ripe (press gently near the tip: if it feels like touching your forehead, it isn’t ripe yet; if it feels like touching your cheek, it’s overripe; it should feel like touching the tip of your nose). But sometimes, despite that trick, I’d cut open an avocado and see brown streaks inside – blech! It turns out that all you need to do if flick off the dry stem tip at the bottom: if the hole is brown, the avocado has started to turn brown inside already, but if it’s green, it’s still good. Brilliant!

- Cleaning berries with a vinegar solution kills bacteria and helps keep them fresh longer. Good to know when berry season is upon us!

- Sugru is an “air-curing rubber that can be formed by hand. It bonds to most materials and turns into a strong, flexible silicone rubber overnight.” Plus, it’s waterproof, heat- and cold-resistant, and electrically insulated. Where has this been all my life?

- A study has shown that dogs show empathy toward people who cry. I’m sure this study, with a conclusion obvious to any dog owner, was necessary before delving into the “why” of the matter: do dogs really feel empathy, have they learned that they receive more affection when approaching someone feeling down, or is it something else?

- Finally, I had dinner with my parents at Fraser Café last week. While I liked the type of restaurant, I wasn’t sure about the menu; it changes weekly, but seemed to have a large proportion of fish, seafood, offal and lamb, none of which I enjoy. That being said, I had a green salad (which had duck confit, asparagus, fried shallots, goat cheese, mixed greens, roasted hazelnuts and pickled something), and then I shared the BBQ chicken with my father (chicken with house barbecue sauce, carrots, asparagus, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, mustard, coleslaw). That dish is meant for two, but servings were huge! The picture below was actually taken after we had both helped ourselves. Obviously, we took home the leftovers and got another few meals out of them. We were too full for dessert, unfortunately. I’m not sure how they accommodate actual allergies; I did take Lactaid for the goat cheese – I’m sure they could have left it out upon request, but I really wanted it. So while I felt that I was restricted in the menu, I did find something that whet my appetite, and the result was fabulous. I recommend the place to anyone looking for a good meal!

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