Friday, July 25, 2014

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Mystery Photo, Win a Lunch Edition

Mystery Photo – Win a Lunch Edition

Food for Thought has been fishing (and catching!) so this week’s column is short and sweet.

My gastro-buddy, Tom, recently sent me the accompanying picture. He ate this interesting dish recently and I challenge readers to identify the components, and where it might have been served. I’ll take the first person to get it right in the comments section for a lunch at one of my favorite spots (see below)! (Several of our compadres are privy to the answer and I WILL know if they blab.)

The Centro Market Chef Street Fight, mentioned in the last column, between Chef Andrew Mcleod (@ChefMcLeod) and Food Trucker, Chef Adam Hynam-Smith (@EGVadam), was a hard fought battle. The chefs are clearly friends, but very competitive, so it was hard to call one over the other: the winner by split decision was… (drum roll please…) Chef Andrew McLeod!

I learned Andrew has exciting plans in the works. Even though he is very much enjoying cooking at a variety of large and small events this summer, (the evening before the street fight he was part of a team of Niagara Chefs catering to 800 at the recent I4c event!), negotiations are underway with a view to launching a new restaurant in North St. Catharines, helmed by him. Chalk one up for St. Kits, if it all comes together!

The Centro Farmer’s Market is a delight with the potential to do all your shopping there on a summer Sunday morning (9:00 a.m. – noon), while having a coffee from Tamp Coffee. It was great to see Kew Vineyards there too, and I look forward to visiting them in the future. I’ve previously noted their Marsanne Viognier as a standout, but enjoyed sample sips of some other of their premium offerings too. Though we acquired a half dozen bottles at the market, there has been a shocking evaporation rate during my absence chasing salmon.

The innovative folks at Springridge Farm recently announced an exciting fall lineup you might want to pencil into your calendars. They include events with Celeb Chefs Michael Smith (Sept 6th), and Stefano Faita (Sept 20th). Perhaps I’ll be luckier in getting an interview with one of them than I was with Chef Lynn Crawford at the Denninger’s 50th bash (see FFT 61)!

In Hamilton news, Chris DesRoches, owner of the much-delayed 28 Lister Chophouse Grill, recently told me final inspections were underway and they anticipate “hitting the road running” very soon. They’ll need some love from Ham/Burlingtonians and I wish them well.

Finally a bit of cross-fertilization. I was invited to share some of my essential local eateries on the Food Bloggers of Canada website recently. The first of two articles can be found here, and I know readers will enjoy both of these great spots. The second, featuring the second pair is here.

To see all past columns please see (and “like”) the Food for Thought Archives

Alex (Alex can be reached at alex@bielak.ca or on twitter @AlexBielak

Ding Ding Ding- Round Three Coming Up

Our third round of questions we are posing to registered mayoral candidates will be published in the next week or two. 

So get ready to pull up a chair, grab a drink and a snack. You've got ring side tickets to round three  here on The Hamiltonian.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Hamilton Stadium- No Yards Penalty?

There is an old adage in the world of managing projects - "You can have it fast, you can have it cheap or you can have it done right- pick two of the three".  The adage speaks to the challenges behind managing projects to  finish on time, stay within budget and deliver a quality result. 

Upon learning that the construction of the new stadium continues to be delayed, resulting in missed games and potentially more missed games. Infrastructure Ontario vice president John McKendrick is quoted in today's Hamilton Spectator (see it here or purchase today's print copy), as saying he will "press and push" the contractor daily. Built in contractual language allows the Hamilton Tiger Cats to claim 1 million dollars for every lost game, due to the delays. The claim is against the city who will attempt recovery from Infrastructure Ontario. 89 million in payments are being withheld, pending the issues being resolved. 

With all the tensions in place to prod the project to completion, the question of whether the pressure is healthy and will achieve a quality result faster, looms against whether the pressure may affect a quality result.

What are your thoughts? Have far should we push?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Op Ed by M Adrian Brassington

This past week saw a too-familiar situation pushed to the forefront. It had to do with the presence of Hamiltonians of a particular set of Life circumstances and their behaviour in the downtown core. The issue was covered in The Spec http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4631730-city-says-more-police-not-needed-in-the-core/>here. It’s a controversial situation. Harsh observations were made. These were countered by poverty advocates as being discriminatory. And it went downhill from there.

As someone who is old enough to have frequented the downtown core going back to the 60s –the pre-Jackson Square period– up to today, I feel I have a pretty good perspective on it all. I’ve lived there. I’ve worked there, and in the most relevant industry in this conversation, retail. I’ve spent tons of leisure time there over the course of almost five decades. Most importantly, I’ve seen it thrive during at least two interludes.

However, rather than focus on the contentious issue of ‘those people and their loitering’ (hereafter referred to as ‘them’), I want to look at things  from the other end of the conversation. Because I think we need to acknowledge certain truths. Truths that are rarely wheeled out for discussion. Instead, cries of stereotyping, discrimination and the inequities of low-income existences hold sway, relegating all else off the agenda.!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Chef vs Chef (vs Chef vs Chef)

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak

Chef vs Chef (vs Chef vs Chef) 

The last couple of weeks have been busy ones on the culinary scene, with the most populist event having been the 2014 O Canada Ribfest held in Waterdown. It attracted nearly 50,000 participants and according to Rotarian organizers there were people from all over Southern Ontario in attendance. Bravo to the committed volunteers who pulled off such a success. Boss Hog’s repeated their win in the “People’s Choice Category” for both Ribs, and Sauce, and Kentucky Smokehouse took top honours for both in the “Judged” category.

As I’ve said before, there are lots of intersections in our culinary scene, both personal and via the personalities and events involved. So, speaking of judging, I’ve been asked to be one of the judges for the

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Media Release - City of Hamilton unveils preview of new website


City of Hamilton unveils preview of new website

HAMILTON, ON – July 9, 2014 – Today, the City of Hamilton unveiled a new website in a preview format as the first phase of a comprehensive web redevelopment project. The beta site – preview.hamilton.ca – showcases citizen-centered, service-based functionality and visual design. The preview site is the beginning of an entirely new website and includes content for five key areas based on top task service items and corporate priorities. They include:

· Animals and pets
· Corporate priority projects
· Council and Committees
· Garbage and recycling
· HSR transit

The full website is expected to launch this fall. Staff will continue to move content over to the preview site throughout the summer during which time the City will be maintaining two websites - the new and the old. The authoritative source for information will continue to be www.hamilton.ca until 100 per cent of content

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Laura Babcock on Hamilton Sign

Enjoy our Q/A with Laura Babcock.

1. Are you surprised at the way things have gone in terms of the effort to get a sign for Hamilton in advance of the Pan Am games?

Yes. I first raised the need for sign on twitter and the response from many in the community was that it was needed. Councillor Merulla requested I formally raise the issue at council and in preparation for my council delegation I learned the city had been working on the gateway issue off and on since 2002 - even completing a public consultation in 2008. When I asked council to simply complete the sign before Pan Am, the 18 month window seemed reasonable and my request had almost unanimous support.

2. Did you envision the cost of putting up the sign, and the considerations that go along with it, to be as challenging as it turns out they are? Do you accept that this is just part of the process, or do you think that the city has made a simple project, a complicated one?

I did not envision a $230,000 cost to the sign but given Stoney Creek's gateway sign was completed years ago at a cost of $290,000 (according to Brad Clark) it wasn't unreasonable. However by the time staff reported the cost to council this spring, it was in an election year and the project was no longer just about having a municipal standard in place to market the city. It became about competing priorities. From a private sector vantage point, the process seems overly complex and politicized however this is not a surprise given Hamilton's history and political culture.

3. What do you think the city’s next steps should be in terms of moving forward with the idea?

The city manager has made recommendations to study specifics and council has allotted money to do so. I would hope council would honour that work and investment and include the gateway signs in next budget cycle. Each day we delay we miss valuable brand impressions.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Media Release- Mayor Bratina on Stadium

“My thanks to all involved in trying to have the stadium ready for July 26th. Anyone who has driven by the work site knows the tremendous effort that is going into the construction of Tim Hortons Field. Although we have fallen short of some early games of the 2014 football schedule, the eventual opening of this wonderful and historic facility will be well worth the wait.”

Bob Bratina
Mayor of Hamilton