Category Archives: Food

Food porn

I haven’t had cable in years. When I did, I loved watching food shows. Wok With Yan, Emeril Live!, Iron Chef, and even the occasional Barefoot Contessa, were all some of my personal favourites to watch. But I haven’t really watched many food shows since I’ve been without cable.

Enter Netflix. (Read: damn you, Netflix.)

I’ve started making my way through David Chang’s The Mind of a Chef and it’s been too awesome so far. Let’s just say I’m glad I ate dinner before I started watching this show, because, even as I type this just thinking about the show, I really want some authentic, Japanese noodle house, ramen.

Oh, ramen. Why must you be so delicious? The best ramen I’ve ever had was in a little ramen shop in Oahu, Hawaii. It was also the first time I had ramen in an actual ramen shop. The second best was a ramen shop in New York City that I visited with my friend, Kathy, during the last thanksgiving. Miso-based ramen quickly became my favourite after that night. And now I want ramen. Really. Badly. I’ll just keep doing it to myself for this whole post, most likely.

But yes, with Netflix being the new cable for me, essentially, I imagine that I’ll be exploring more and more food shows as I spend more time looking for something to watch on Netflix than actually watching Netflix anyway. I did watch all of the available episodes of the original Kitchen Nightmares, which I found entertaining more than delicious and tantalizing. Though, admittedly, I salivated for most of the one episode that featured New Orleans inspired soul food.

And once upon a time, I fell in love with Pixar’s Ratatouille and was immediately inspired to cook like a real chef with every dish I prepared for the next month. I was really good at the presentation, but the flavour I could still use some work on.

But without fail, every time I watch food shows, I might as well be Stan’s Dad from South Park in that one “Creme Fraiche” episode. But just to a point. Not all the way. (If you know the episode, you’ll understand.)

Seriously, though, I need some ramen. Get me some ramen. Please.

-Mickey

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Sometimes all you need is dim sum.

I love dim sum. It’s the best. My favourite part about it, though, isn’t even the food. It’s all about the people. It’s meant to be shared and it’s the quickest way to make a group of friends feel more like family, even when you welcome new friends to the fold.

Dim sum in the winter is especially delicious and enjoyable. There’s something about delicious bite size food keeping you warm in the cold and wet of winter that just makes you forget about the conditions outside. And did I mention the people? They’re the best. You talk about anything and everything at the dim sum table with friends. And you laugh at all of it. And the only silence you experience is the wonderful food silence that happens because all of the delicious occupying your mouth. Ah, food silence. It’s the most comfortable silence in the world.

My advice? Order everything. At least once. I haven’t done it yet, but one day, with a group of dim sum loving friends (read: all friends because who doesn’t love dim sum?), all the items will be on the table. All of them. Even the ones that I don’t like, because someone will inevitably try it and finish it. (Chicken feet lovers, you know who you are.) Admittedly, it’s a little harder on friends who are vegetarian/vegan. Okay, it’s a lot harder for those friends to enjoy it since nearly everything is meat based, but even then they can enjoy a couple of delicious elements of dim sum. Not much of it, unfortunately, but again, it’s about the people you bring to the dim sum table than it is the dim sum.

Don’t get me wrong: bad dim sum sucks. But unless you’re getting dim sum from the wrong places (i.e. not restaurants), it’s really hard to have bad dim sum. Even store bought, frozen-food section dim sum is good in a pinch. Really, there’s just good dim sum and great dim sum.  I don’t even know how I can say that “bad dim sum sucks” because I can honestly say I’ve never had dim sum I didn’t enjoy somewhat.

But then again, I always have good people at the dim sum table, and, again, that’s what it’s all about.

Go have some dim sum. There’s never a bad time to do it. And then invite me. I’ll be there.

And don’t forget that your fortune cookie fortunes aren’t complete sentences until you say “in bed.”

-Mickey

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I only do friends’ weddings.

I’ve started using the hashtag #ionlydofriendsweddings every time I, well, DJ a friend’s wedding. It’s the truth. I only do the wedding DJ thing when a friend or relative goes out of their way to reach out to me to request my musical services. And save for an already booked gig or trip, I’ll usually agree to the task.

But I’ve become sort of a (barely) self-proclaimed on the planning of the entertainment and emcee side of the reception ceremonies. I’ve seen it work so many different ways and, so far, it’s never gone “wrong” when I’m on watch. It’s kind of funny, actually, to see how stressed and anxious each couple gets as the date approaches, and how completely unwarranted their worries end up becoming.

For me, receptions are old hat, second nature, easy peasy, etc. and I completely understand that, for the couple, this is (probably) their first and last shot at an amazing reception party. I have to remember that when I meet with couples, and usually I end up using my experience as a way to calm their concerns. But it’s still amusing to see them sweat the small stuff on my end that really requires little preparation or work on my part to make it all happen.

The key, however, is that I only do this for friends and family. My reasoning behind that is simple boredom aversion. Truthfully, the only thing that keeps me entertained at these events is the fact that it’s a celebration for someone close to me. Yes, the DJing part is extremely fun for me — controlling the pulse of the party and seeing how the crowd reacts never gets old — but that’s only a quarter of my entire day/night, usually. The rest is either loading the car and setting up, or making sure the dinner playlist isn’t too loud. And if it weren’t for friends and family, I would be bored out of my mind. I’ll often get friends of friends of friends asking me for cards or “talent scouts” randomly showing up to banquet halls looking for DJs to add to their roster come up to me to give me their cards. I’m humbled and flattered every time, but the truth remains:

I only do friends weddings.

And the food is always in the contract. Hehe.

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– Mickey

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Happy birthday, Dad.

So today was the big 55th birthday for my Dad. We celebrated at a small, quaint banquet hall, about 85 of us, and it was a very fun, early evening (which, after late night last night, was a part of what made it fun). The dinner was great, dessert (I assume) was delicious, but as you know, I’ve been pretty good with my nutrition and decided to skip the sweets. And as I mentioned yesterday, the entertainment was a lot of fun because it was my brother and his girlfriend alongside Arlene Paculan and myself playing a couple of Motown hits as a full band for my Dad. (He loves his Motown.)

I love doing events like this, mainly because it’s family and if you’ve been keeping up, you know how strong of a connection I have with them. But there’s two elements that I realized today that I really enjoy. The first, of course, is family. (See yesterday’s post for more on that.) The second is the actual setup of the event. I was in charge of the entertainment and music for the evening, so that meant turning a bare dance floor into a stage for a band. I’ve done this many, many times in the past, but today I realized, looking at it all, that this was a setup completely done by me. My brother and my Mom helped by acquiring equipment to bring to the venue, and my brother and his girlfriend assembled her drum kit, but I pieced it all together and made sure everything worked, pretty much on my own. Again, I’ve done this many times before, but for the first time I actually stepped back and thought to myself, “wow, this is what I can do.” This isn’t to boost my ego, and this doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a complete team effort when it comes to events like this, but it’s just a nice realization of the fact that I can do things like this like it’s second nature, and that I’ve come this far and learned so much over the years to get here. It was a nice little moment.

And when it comes to family, well that’s pretty much the best part of it all. It’s so rejuvenating and fun to be in a room with so many people that you get along with and trust. What really stood out to me, though, was the clear growth of the family and the many first-time connections with the next generation kids of the family. Of course I was ecstatic to see my littlest best friend, my little niece, as I love her to pieces, but I got to meet my cousins’ new babies and see how much some of their kids have already grown up. My favourite part about that all is that the trust was there, even though it was the first time meeting. It’s like they knew that I was family, even though they never really see me at all. It was such an amazing experience, and the bonus of it all is seeing them all play together. I was immediately brought back to the days when I was playing with my cousins at that age, and the cycle of it all had never seemed so clear than in that moment. Beautiful.

Happy birthday, Dad. Without you, none of this that I’m writing would have ever come to exist. I hope that I can continue to make connections like you have as I experience more and more of this life. Thanks for the great party.

– Mickey

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Motivation in results.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my progress on the health side of things. I’m happy to report that it’s still going on and I’ve been steady on track, heading into Week 7 of the complete P90X program. I’m down 20 pounds, my belt is two notches tighter, my shirts are hanging looser, and I am definitely seeing results that I’ve never seen before, particularly in the overall strength category. I’m starting to see definition in my arms that I never thought I’d see, I’m more flexible than I’ve been in 10 years, and I feel like have an actual jump in my step. (The stairs in front of my house are dangerously uneven, but I can bound up them without a problem. Previously, there would be one or two steps that, because of their odd heights, I’d have to put some extra effort into stepping up.)

The results are showing in everyday things and in activities where it pays to be in better shape. Yesterday, I went paintballing with the boys in the family — Dad and Uncle included — and I could definitely feel the difference in how I could move after 7 weeks of exercise vs. how I would have moved before. I could get from cover to cover quickly, and move from standing to crouched to prone and back in a hurry. The spring in my step even took a couple of players by surprise from a distance, as I marked them unexpectedly. (I don’t know if working out has improved my aim, but bonus if it has.) I know the old me would be panting and wheezing trying to move in and out of a low crouch, and while I was moving and working and keeping up a sweat, I was definitely not exhausted after the two-hour session. I probably could have gone a few more rounds, if I had the time and the ammo, but I had another event to attend. All-in-all, it was a great boys’ day out, and I can definitely thank P90X for making it more enjoyable. In fact, I pushed a little bit harder for the past month knowing that I’d be going into a firefight with/against a couple of natural athletes in the family. I did not want to be the snail in this battle.

It’s absolutely motivating. When you work hard and see and feel the results, you become your own motivation to keep going. It’s easy to stay conscious of your health, your diet, and your everyday activity levels when you know that only good things are waiting for you around the next workout, the next week, the next phase. I haven’t eaten a single potato chip since Mid-January. The same can be said for candy and chocolate. It helps that I’ve stocked my fridge and cupboards with only the healthy stuff listed in the nutrition guide. (Out of sight, out of mind.) And it also helps that turkey bacon and top sirloin is on the menu and part of the calories I’m supposed to intake, but can’t because even I find it to be too much. (Listening to your body is key to adjusting food and workouts properly.)

It’s cliché to say it, but hard work pays off, especially in the health and fitness department. But it has to be your hard work. You are the only one who can drive yourself to do great things. Yes, you may find motivation in others, but in the end, the real motivation comes from you and from the results you create.

Bring it.

– Mickey

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Multiple annual checkpoints.

Days like Super Bowl Sundays always open up memories of Super Bowls from past years. For those who love the game, they’ll remember their favourite match-ups, favourite plays, favourite players, and favourite story lines. For me, and I’m sure for countless other extremely casual football fans, it’s all about the event itself. And by “event” I don’t mean the Super Bowl game. I’m talking about the party, or the get-together, or the alone time watching the game. I’ll always remember being in university and playing street hockey with my friends before heading inside for the big game, home-made chili in the slow cooker among many other delicious things waiting to be devoured. Or grilling many small foods on a hibachi at my cousins’ house, before kickoff, and desert during the half-time show. Tonight it was good friends and beautiful new friends at a carefully selected, not-too-busy bar, streaming the game online through a projector, complete with the tastiest jerk chicken wings I’ve ever had. (Don’t worry, I kept the portions to proteins, and am probably still not at my recommended daily caloric intake. Plus it’s Super Bowl Sunday: the one day where eat-cheating is expected.) And all of these will now always pop into my head when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around every year.

It’s also interesting when you think of the company you have during these events that generally happen at the same time each year. Of the 20 or so people from that one Super Bowl memory from university, I probably meet up with of 3 of them, sparsely through the current years. That hibachi-filled memory pretty much repeated itself without me this year, as I joined new company this time around. Each memory of that annual checkpoint really informs you about what your situation was at the time.

And this, of course, goes for more than just the Super Bowl. Obviously holidays come into mind, with every Halloween costume, Christmas morning, and New Year’s eve giving you an updated checkpoint in your life. Other big sporting events, such as the Olympics, will always have special memories attached to them, like watching tennis quarter-finals from a hotel in Mexico, or watching Canada’s Men’s Hockey Team win Gold during on a laptop in the middle of show rehearsal. We get a glimpse of what our life was like at every one of those checkpoints in our memory.

The point of all of this, if there is one, is that even during the most frantic, awesome, adrenaline-filled times, there is always room for reflection and meditation on where you are now and how you got there from last year. And if you don’t think there is, you probably already did it when your buddy asked you before Beyoncé hit the stage, “remember how weird last year’s half-time show was?”

Destiny’s Child is back…ish.

– Mickey

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Back to your favourite you.

We all have a version of ourselves that we like the best. Whether it be what we consider our “prime” or a potential version of ourselves that we have yet to realize, this is the goal that we are always thinking about when don’t even know that’s what we’re thinking. This might not even be our ideal version of ourselves, just one that we prefer or have favourited.

One of my favourite versions of me existed about 55 pounds ago. I’ve been that version 3 times and I’m always at my most energetic when in that iteration. I’m working my way back to a better version of that guy right now. In fact, I’ve been working on becoming him again for the last 9 days. He is always powered up and ready to do everything. He fits in size medium shirts. He even has a surprisingly nice jawline. But there’s a better version of him for which I’m striving and today was a big step in that direction.

This better version has much healthier metabolism. He’s stronger, faster, and eats better than all other versions of me. He doesn’t have that gut he’s had forever anymore. He may even be able to see his defined and refined abdominal muscles. (A man can dream.) But my favourite part about this version of me is that he never let’s go of his goal to be and maintain this version. He wants to continue to be that ideal me.

I know I can get to this version. He might not be just 81 days away, but whoever I become in that amount of time will be even closer to that ideal me than ever before. The key is sticking to it. Accountability. Vision. Passion. All of these are my tools to that new me.

And I think once I’m happy with that new me, then I’ll be more confident to find that person with whom that new me will journey for the rest of our lives. (Sappy romantic version of me will probably always follow along. Truth be told.)

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– Mickey

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