My Heaven Includes Bacon

IMG_5294I have been struggling to come up with a simple way to explain my change in diet. Basically I am a vegetarian for most of the week, and an omnivore on weekends. Why?

It’s not about religion, I am too afraid of picking the wrong denomination to ever choose just one. I can already imagine how ripped off I would feel if I lived my whole life by some strict code, to get turned away at the pearly gates (or equivalent) by a technicality! “You’re kicking me out for eating bacon?? Hey, my heaven includes bacon!”

While it is a great reason to reduce meat intake, the environment isn’t my reason. I am reducing intake of all animal proteins (including fish), not just the ones that chew up hectares of land and resources to produce.

It isn’t an ethical concern, since I can’t see where to draw the line on animals, insects or plants. Does the tasty cow deserve to live more than the yummy escargot? And we’ve all seen Avatar; how about plants??

So that leaves health, and yes that is the reason. I’ve read a fair bit of research that points to animal protein –not the common villain, fat– as the root cause of heart disease and many cancers. Completely eliminating meat is supposed to be the idea solution, but many health benefits can be gained by significantly reducing the intake to levels much lower than the typical North American diet.

Are the Meat & Dairy Industries the Next ‘Big Tobacco’?

I have heard too many studies on nutrition to take any of them seriously. One study says X is bad, the next says X is good. Too much noise, and I have been filtered it out for a long time. I figured, eat everything in moderation and exercise will lead to good health.

You can have your cake, and eat your steak too (which is great, because I love steak!).

For the first time, I have come across research that seems to go ‘thunk’ with me, something that is actually changing my behaviour. I read the book ‘The China Study‘, and it has so much compelling detail that I just can’t ignore it. Here is a good video summary by the author… you’ll note that this guy does not sound like some kind of Atkins quack.

Conclusion… the biggest competitor to the pharmaceutical industry, and the solution to the NA health care disaster, is likely a whole-foods plant-based diet.

Ironically our ‘low-fat’ health kick is actually INCREASING the amount of animal protein we are eating, which is exactly the wrong way to go.

Oh, crap…

The BEST Burger Joint in Ottawa: Burger & Shakes

Well, I am cheating a bit, it is actually in Manotick Station which is just East of Manotick (crossing of Limebank and Mitch Owens); but it is certainly worth the drive!  You can click here to see it on the map.

I was heading over to Omer’s place for a jamming session, where I pretend to be able to play the drums, and I needed to grab a bite on the way.  I call Omer to ask him where to eat and he says “You have to try Burger & Shakes… its a couple miles east of Mantotick across from the high school.”  Since Omer is a big fan of food -as am I- I didn’t take much convincing for me to give it a try.

Sure enough, in the middle of nowhere, is Burger & Shakes, attached to a golf & mini-putt business which is closed for the winter season.  Its 8:30 PM on a Thursday night and there are actually cars in the parking lot.  This is a good sign…

I am pretty hungry, so looking up at the board I try and decide between the 10oz ‘Double Burger’ and the 7oz ‘Super Burger’.  I decide I don’t want a double, and order the Super with a side of poutine.

When the fresh (certainly NOT ever frozen!) beef patty is placed on the grill, I am shocked to see that it resembles a large pancake in size!  This is going to be a big meal.

While I wait for the burger to cook, I have a chance to talk to Ali and Zainab about their business.  They are clearly the sort of people that should be running a business like this:  Really passionate about what they do, and it’s very obvious they enjoy interacting -and getting to know-  their customers.  Ali tells me about how they get their top quality beef locally, pointing in the direction of the farm they get it from.  As our discussion continues, my patty on the grill shrinks from massive to just huge.  Ali asks if I want some steak spice, yep!

I get my meal and sit down to enjoy it.  Wow, what a great burger!  Not only the patty is good, but the bun is super fresh.  The poutine is also fabulous, with the large cut fries being perfecty cooked and also from potatoes of high quality.  About half way through Ali asks how I like it…. “Awesome!” I reply between bites.

Since I like to help send good businesspeople good business, I had decided about half way through my meal to do a blog post on this restaurant.  It was a testament to how good a sport Zainab was that she was willing to let me take the picture below of them after a long day at work.

Thanks to Ali and Zainab for the great food, and Omer for the recommendation!  I think Omer and I are going to make this part of our bi-weekly jamming ritual.  🙂

SfaUT: Top 5 Posts of ALL Time

Well, actually it has been about 1 and 1/2 years since I started blogging, and I wanted to see if any ‘Unifying Theme’ has popped up.  Also, for anyone who has watched network TV, you eventually get to that episode where the money and/or creativity runs out, and they resort to running a ‘retrospective’ episode of clips cobbled together from previous episodes.  This is the blog post equivalent…

Maybe it is different for other bloggers, but I doubt it: the posts that you really, really like are NOT the ones that get the most hits!  Based on the number of hits, I should create a blog about Rogers or RBC rants, or perhaps a restaurant guide.

SfaUT Top Posts

The top post, which still receives more hits a day than any other post, is a rant about the high data roaming charges that Rogers bills its customers, which I experienced on my trip to Asia earlier this year.  Apparently this is a common experience with a lot of people, which has led to a lot of traffic to my site.  If you type “rogers data extortion” into Google, my post is the top hit (as of today).

Next, in #2 position, is a post I did about Google.  I was watching Google regularly releasing applications that I am sure others were building their entire business case on, and had a thought:  What is happening to the web start-up industry as a result of Google’s deep pockets, and free applications?  This got picked up by a web aggregator called Ycombinator at the time, and has since been changed to ‘Hacker News’.  Of those >1000 reads, about 80% were in a single day, and has since dropped to zero reads a day!

#3, and deservedly so, is my assertion that Singapore Restaurant is the best restaurant in Ottawa, and why.  It shows up on about page 6 of a Google search on Ottawa’s best restaurant, so it must only be really determined people that find it… or they are using some other search tool.  With 662 views, I hope at least a few of those people actually gave it a try, Abba and Foo deserve the business!

#4 was another fee-based rant:  This time the target was RBC Visa and their overlimit fees.  Since I don’t carry balances on credit cards this was actually a sympathetic-rant for a friend I was helping with some financial counselling.  I actually got quite angry on the phone with the RBC representative and accused them of taking advantage of people that were not financially savvy.  Now I wish I had recorded it, it may have made a good audio clip for the blog.

Finally, to maintain my lack of a ‘Unifying Theme’, the last in my Top 5 list is about an observation I made of how similar Klee Irwin and John Waters look… judge for yourself! This was my second post about Klee, who came to my attention in his hilariously funny infomercials on dual-action cleanse.

It appears that I am STILL Searching for a Unifying Theme…

Starbucks: How to Alienate Your Fans With Music!

Starbucks LogoThere is another one of my frequent haunts that I have not yet addressed in my Blog:

Starbucks, I spend a lot of time (and money) at Starbucks, I like to use it as my second office. For some reason, I tend to be able to get more done in its noisy environment, than the increasingly quiet office space I reside in.

While there are a lot of things I like about Starbucks (repeat after me: “for here grande non-fat no-whip mocha”), including their stellar approach to human resources and talent selection, they have been doing something lately that may drive this loyal customer away: playing crappy music!

As part of their attempt to increase their average revenue per customer visit, they play featured music that is for sale in the stores. They are also rolling out a super-cool system where you can buy featured music with your iPhone, but I digress…

As I already mentioned, Starbucks are typically pretty noisy places. You have the coffee machines going, people calling off drinks, and the buzz of the customers. To get the music out over the din, they play the music LOUD! Today I was using a pair of sound isolating earphones, and I still couldn’t keep the cursed music out of my head!

While some people may like the music selection, I think they stand to alienate more customers than attract based on this marketing approach! Now that Howard Schultz has retaken the CEO position in an attempt to get Starbucks back on the right track, I have some hope that this practice will get the axe!

The BEST Restaurant in Ottawa – (Was) Singapore Restaurant!

Those of you who know me well are probably surprised that it took so long for me to do a post about my favourite restaurant.

To be clear, I have lots of favourites, depending on the occasion, but there is NO restaurant that I go to more often than Singapore. For example, last night I went to ’18’ in The Market (Ottawa) and that was probably the best meal I have had in the city, but that was $130 for a couple, so… I am not doing that once a week!

Singapore restaurant’s location does not lend itself to easy discovery. It is across the street from the Coliseum Cinemas on Carling, but is hidden by an Indian Restaurant. Most people find it by referral, and I think I probably account for about a hundred of those so far.

While the whole menu is awesome, particularly the Curry Shrimp and Black Bean anything, the meal that I have on average once a week, is the Singapore Lakksa. This version of Lakksa is a coconut broth-based curry dish with rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, egg & bean sprouts (which I don’t get because I think beans should really be allowed to live a full life) with the option of either hot sauce on the side, or you can order the meal hot. Only order the Lakksa hot if you are a real fan of hot, because I LOVE hot food, but that is too hot for me!

I mention ‘version’ because, in Singapore and Malaysia, ‘Lakksa’ is a generic term for ‘soup’ so if you have had it before at other restaurants, like ‘Spring Rolls’ in Toronto, you will find that it may be quite different if they based their Lakksa on a different style of Malaysian cooking.

Other big plusses of the Singapore are the reasonable prices, and FAST service. I have a 10 minute drive from my office, but can still do the round trip and have a meal at a relaxed pace within one hour.Take out is also another good option, you can order 15 mins in advance and have it ready for pickup when you get there.Tell Abba that Adrian sent you. 🙂

The Singapore Restaurant
69 Kempster Avenue Ottawa, ON
(613) 820-4119

P.S. The significance of the picture is that Barry actually ate TWO Lakksas. If you have ever eaten ONE you will know how big a feat this is! Apparently only 4 people have done this, and I know two of them (I’m not one of them).

P.P.S. September 9, 2016…  Sadly all good things must come to an end.  Thanks Ah Bah,  Foo & Andrew for so many wonderful meals!  I hope all the client love near the end didn’t take years off your life!!


Vancouver Chronicles: Joe Fortes

Vancouver: Joe Fortes

Originally uploaded by Adrian F1

Wow, I thought it would be silly to order steak while in Vancouver when seafood is on the menu, but this place makes a great case for surf & turf!!

While not cheap, it isn’t exclusive either. Expect to spend $60-100 per person depending on how many courses your order.

Our server (Micheal) was fabulous, and more than made up for any confusion at the beginning of our meal where we were left alone for a bit too long before being asked for our drink orders.

Lori had filet mignon with a side of 4-potato gratin, which were both fabulous, and I had a 3-fish selection which included mahi mahi, salmon and halibut. Those mains, the shrimp appetizers and the creme brule dessert were all 10/10.

Lori claims that this was the best meal she has ever had, and I would definitely put it in my top 10!

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