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SimonThibault.com

Journalist. Food Writer. Producer.

Filtering by Tag: Assis Toi

No more sitting down

After ten weeks of running around and finding, recording, and editing stories, Assis Toi, my food series for CBC Radio here in the Maritimes, is done for the summer.

I've been doing this series for about four years now, and every year I find myself discovering new and fascinating little pieces of history, personal stories, and so much more. Food has such a huge impact on our daily lives, and not just in the immediate sense of filling our bellies. Yes, we need food to survive, but the role food plays in our lives is deeper than that. Why does a woman choose to become a cheesemaker after working for the UN? What happens when a woman leaves the old country behind and finds a new country full of people who welcomes her and her food with open hearts? 

These are the stories we can tell through food. And these are the stories I count myself lucky enough to have been able to transmit to others. 

Just because Assis Toi is over for the summer doesn't mean you should go without radio about food. With that in mind, I'd like to point you to some amazing food radio that I can't stop listening to. 

First is Good Food, from KCRW in Los Angeles. Hosted by Evan Kleiman, the show is based in L.A., but looks at food culture throughout the United States, and the rest of the world.  It also includes weekly restaurant reviews by Jonathan Gold, the first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize.

The second is The Splendid Table, with host Lynn Rosetto Kasper.  I discovered this show thanks to food photographer and stylist Kelly Neill. Kasper has been doing this show for twenty years, and it runs like a well-oiled machine, with interviews from chefs around the world, and even a weekly phone-in with Kasper doling out advice on what to cook, how, and where to learn more about it.

A recent podcast which I have completely become obsessed with telling people about is Gravy, put out by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Produced and hosted by Tina Antolini, this show examines the ways in which food and culture intersect in the American South. One of my favourite pieces is about the last Jews of Natchez, Mississippi by Robin Amer. Listen. Now. 

Last but not least is my favourite, the works of The Kitchen Sisters. Niki Silva and Davia Nelson have been producing Hidden Kitchens with NPR for years, but now have their own podcast called Fugitive Waves. The sisters recently won the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Radio Show. if you love radio, food, and good storytelling, listen to anything and everything these two put their name on. 

This is the kind of image I've been staring at for two months. And I couldn't be happier about it.

This is the kind of image I've been staring at for two months. And I couldn't be happier about it.

I'd like to take thank everyone involved in this year's crop of stories.

- Joy and Malcolm at Fudgelicious

- The Chen family, especially Pay Chen

- Emily Tipton at Boxing Rock Brewing, and the guys from Good Robot Brewing

- David Parks at La Cantina

- Kristina Parlee and Lindsay Cameron Wilson for talking about cookbooks

- Valerie Mansour for chatting about her mom while feeding me a feast of lebanese food. 

- Chef Antonio Park who took the time out of his busy schedule

- Lyndell Findlay for taking me into her man-made "cave" of blue cheese

- Sébastien Dol, who made me look at my old stomping grounds of Church Point in a new way

- and Joshawa Lamkey from Grindhouse Blade Ware & Care.

On the CBC side of things, special thanks go out to Sandy Smith, Jerry West, Don Connelly, Louise Renault, and Christina Harnett at Information Morning here in Halifax, Jonna Brewer at Information Morning Moncton, Hance Coleburn at Information Morning Saint John, Steve Sutherland at Information Morning Cape Breton, Terry Seguin at Information Morning Fredericton,  and last but not least, Matt Rainie at Island Morning in Prince Edward Island. 

And thanks to you, for listening, downloading, tweeting, posting, and sharing these stories. Thank you so much.

A story by a thousand cuts

When is the last time you had your knives sharpened?

I don't mean using the shitty sharpening steel that came with your Kitchen-Aid butcher block. I mean actually took your knives to a cutler, someone who has sharpens, maintains, and resurrects knives to their true glory.

It's ok. I've never done it either.

But that may change, now that I've met Joshawa Lamkey from Grindhouse Blade & Ware Care. Lamkey has been sharpening blades here in Halifax for the past few years, but his devotion to all things bladed is not just in their maintenance: it is in the stories found within.

In this latest - and last - episode of Assis Toi, Lamkey tells the story of how an unsuspecting-looking knife turned out to be a hand-hammered beauty.  You can stream the episode here, or you can download the podcast via iTunes here. 

Update, September 3rd, 2015: I got a lovely email today from a listener named Harriet McReady who heard my piece about Josh and his knives. She gave me permission to share her email with you.

My father always kept his knives in top condition, and I have two of his sharpening stones and use them are use them regularly. (Perhaps not as well as he did... as he would sit calmly for what seemed a very long time... I have not such patience. ) He also carried a small stone in his pocket, which he used anywhere he found a dull knife!
But I wanted mostly to tell you that I have a knife that was my great-grandmother’s; a bread knife. It was given to me by my aunt, who died in 2012 at the age of 91. It has an inscription looks like “The Etna Bread Knife”
Patent May 25 1886 Landers  Frary &Clark New Britain Conn. U.S.A. (I think these letters are correct.)
The handle is wooden, with a carved decorative braid. I use it nearly every day and treasure it greatly. 
My aunt said a bread knife should never be used for anything but bread... and I obey!

Just goes to show: you never know where another story can pop up.

Old stomping grounds, new foraging grounds.

It can be complicated to explain where I grew up. 

I was raised in a village in Nova Scotia, called Pointe-de-l'Église. But it's also known as Church Point. You see, I grew up in a french-speaking community, in an anglophone province, hence the two names.  The community is called Clare, which is also its municipal designation. It's also known as la Baie Sainte-Marie, or the french shore, which is the name given to the series of french-speaking Acadian villages that dot the shoreline in the area between Digby and Yarmouth.  

Is that as clear as mud? Good. I'll just call it home for now. 

Participants in the  Tintamarre , an Acadian tradition where participants gather together to make as much noise as possible, to remind the rest of the world that Acadians are still here. 

Participants in the Tintamarre, an Acadian tradition where participants gather together to make as much noise as possible, to remind the rest of the world that Acadians are still here. 

Suffice to say, I recently went home to visit my family, participate in the 60th anniversary of the Festival acadien de Clare, which is the oldest Acadian festival in the world. I had the chance to go picking fruit in my parents' orchard, and even go fishing for mackerel. You can see the best bits of the trip over on Steller. 

A crab apple tree in my parent's orchard.

A crab apple tree in my parent's orchard.

But I also went there to do some work for an upcoming project, an audio documentary that will be podcast in the next few months. I can't say much more than that, but stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.

I also had the chance to visit my old alma mater, Université Sainte-Anne, Nova Scotia's only francophone university. It was there that I ran into Sébastien Dol. Sébastien and I were both students at Ste-Anne, and his father was a professor in the science department at the time. When I ran into him, he suggested he take me out to go foraging for mushrooms on the campus, a habit he picked up from his father.

You can hear more about Sébastien in this episode of Assis Toi, which you can listen to via streaming over at CBC, or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

Symphony In Blue

This week's episode of Assis Toi might as well be subtitled, In The Basement

That's where Lyndell Findlay, owner and cheesemaker from Blue Harbour Cheese plies her trade.

Since she launched her Urban Blue cheese, a gorgonzala-esque double cream blue cheese, Findlay has been amping up her production, as tasters and buyers seem to be following her wherever her cheese is sampled. She has been chronicled in The Globe and Mail, and is currently working on a few more cheese products which have yet to reach the market.

You can listen to the latest episode of Assis Toi by streaming it here, or downloading it here. I also invite you to Have A Seat with Lyndell, down below.