Guest Post: Get the best deals with Montreal flyers

If you are tired of paying the full price at grocery stores while your neighbors are always getting envious discounts, it is time to make the switch and search the web for Montreal or store flyers that will fetch you some great discounts. Basically the term store flyers are used to define discount coupons that can be redeemed at various stores across thecity or even in your neighbourhood. The thing is that you do actually get some amazing prices and offers here.

These store flyers, Quebec Flyers or Montreal Flyers are available online and you just have to get a printout of the same. Some of these are free while others are chargeable or might have a nominal fee. So how do you choose? Well the deal is simple… Pick or buy these flyers on the basis of requirement rather than just availability. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you don’t pick flyers that are available for free! Those are always welcome. You never know when you may need them or even just give to friends or relatives. When going grocery shopping, take the timeout to check out what coupons and flyers are available online, then based on this, compare what makes sense for you. For instance, if you are getting discounts over potatoes and you use these spuds in some good numbers every week, then go ahead and buy some. Always check the date of expiry too. For instance, a flyer may not be of use right now but it can be redeemed at your next visit to the store.

Another benefit of these flyers is that once you sign up for a particular website, you will keep getting newsletters from the same about the deals available and what is the newest. This way you can keep saving up on those coupons and just pick them or print them whenever you are visiting the store next. A tip that I find very handy here would be to keep these in your handbag all the time because it can be really handy if you make an unplanned or unexpected visit to the grocery or departmental store.

Also keep in mind that these flyers are not restricted to just grocery items. You can get discounts on almost anything ranging from medicines to clothes. All of these can picked online. The idea is to have a look before you head of shopping or else you might regret paying the full price for something that was available for peanuts.

So the next time you are planning on grocery or clothes shopping, do remember to check out store flyers, Quebec Flyers or Montreal Flyers to make sure that you fetch prices that are lower than what is available in the market!

Man Food With Mark Hix: Pork Crackling

It’s that time of year again, which means you’ll probably have plenty of waifs and strays turning up on your doorstep, expecting to be fed and watered. The swine. Thing is, you’ve got a reputation to uphold, and the last things you want to serve are plates of greasy salted peanuts and bowls of chalky cheese straws.

It’s always good to make an extra effort and avoid the pre-made canapés and snacks on supermarket shelves. Though some aren’t too bad, you don’t want to find yourself handing out the same party nibbles as your neighbours come Christmas Eve.

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To be honest, I do cheat a little. Most years, I’ll buy pre-made dumplings from London’s Chinatown and store them in my freezer. They’re great with soy or chilli dipping sauce. Equally, mini cooking chorizos tend to go down well; just store in the freezer and defrost in lukewarm water. So, for this year’s Christmas entertaining, I’ve come up with alternative, easy-to-make snacks, which will knock the stockings off your guests.

Most of us love pork crackling but it’s rare that you get enough from a joint of pork to make a plate of these delicious snacks. Pork rind often gets binned by butchers, so ask yours to save you some, then make this mouth-watering recipe.

Ingredients:
800g–1kg pork rind with about 1cm of fat left on
2–3tbsps Cornish sea salt

For the Bramley apple sauce:
1 Bramley apple, peeled
1/2tsp mixed spice
1tbsp caster sugar

Directions:
1 | Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6. Cut the pork rind into rough strips about 12cm x 3cm. Place them in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 mins. Drain well, place on a baking tray and scatter a tablespoon of sea salt over them.
2 | Roast for about 1 hour, turning every so often until crisp. Drain excess fat from the tray into a bowl to use for roast potatoes another time.
3 | Chop the apple into chunks and place with the mixed spice and sugar in a thick-bottomed pan on a medium heat. Cook for 10 mins, stirring frequently until the apple has broken up. Whisk it to make it smoother, although I prefer it chunky.
4 | Drain the pork in a colander and scatter on more salt while hot. Transfer the crackling onto kitchen paper. Serve with the apple sauce dip (eat the same day).

Datebook Diner: Continental offers great drinks, average food

The Continental is an East Village hangout that I like for its smart, intriguing cocktails. If only the menu were as good.

If you haven’t been, I should explain that The Continental is a lounge on Locust just a short walk from the Iowa State Capitol Building. Inside, the long dining area begins with a handsome wood bar that complements the rough, exposed brick walls. There is a popular happy hour here and, on the weekends, live music.

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But The Continental aspires to be more than a saloon with nibbles. A look at the menu reveals ambitious cuisine: truffle mushrooms, smoked diver scallops and the like.

It all sounds great, but I’m afraid that in some cases the kitchen over-promises and under-delivers.

This was especially apparent when I ate off the “small plates and tapas” section of the menu during a recent lunch there with friends.

The meal got off to a poor start when my order of hot chocolate arrived. The impressive mug wowed with its picturesque dollop of whipped cream. However, with no sugar at all to sweeten the beverage, it tasted horrible. They made me a new one but it was just more of the same. Hello, no one likes unsweetened hot chocolate!

The best of the food was the dish of crispy polenta fries ($5.95). I like the trick of how these are made: Polenta, which is boiled cornmeal, is chilled until firm then sliced into strips and deep fried to a golden brown hue. It was smartly paired with a spicy Louisiana sauce called remoulade.

And I thought the puerco pibil tacos ($8.95) were good. Puerco pibil (more commonly called cochinita pibil) is Mexico’s version of Southern pulled pork. Highly seasoned pork shoulder is slowly roasted until fork tender. The Continental’s tacos had ample pork and fresh pico de gallo.

But the smoky chipotle hummus ($7.95) needed salt badly and the panko crab cakes ($9.95) were mealy and tasted unpleasantly fishy.

I think I could have enjoyed the chicken and chorizo brochettes ($9.95) if not for the fact that they were overcooked. These skewers included Spanish chorizo, red onion, green peppers, and chunks of chicken breast that were unfortunately very dry.

The worst tapa could have been the best if it had been cooked properly: the cheese and olive empanadillas ($8.95). These Spanish pastries were stuffed with manchego cheese and Kalamata olives, which was a tasty filling. But while the dough appeared brown and cooked outside, it was mostly gummy and raw.

While most of the menu is relegated to tapas, The Continental also offers salads, sandwiches, and three entrees — hanger steak, vegetarian lasagna, and seared tilapia — which are available from 5 to 10 p.m.

Of these, I enjoyed the hanger steak ($18.95) most but found the creamy whiskey sauce too rich, and I also wish the plate had come with a green vegetable rather than garlic-basil toast.

I ate my steak with a terrific whiskey smash, which was loaded with muddled citrus. Spying the bartender as he crafted the drink, I noticed how he carefully took a drop from the cocktail to taste.

No wonder that drink, as least, was perfect.

London Food And Drink News: 19 December 2013

Brindisa Christmas Pop-up In Brixton

Spanish deli and restaurant group Brindisa will be opening a bar-come-shop in railway arches on Atlantic Road early next year, and they’re giving us a sneak preview this weekend with a festive pop-up. Open from Friday until Sunday, the shop will sell ingredients including Iberico ham, chorizo, olive oil, aged Manchego and other cheeses, and high quality tinned fish for foodie gifts. Full details and opening hours are here.
Real Food Festival Christmas Market

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Starting Thursday and running until Sunday, the Real Food Festival’s biggest event of the year has returned to the Southbank. The usual market that takes place behind Royal Festival Hall of a weekend is being joined by all manner of Christmassy food and gift stalls and it will run right through until 8pm each night (6pm on Sunday). Mulled wine and cider are on hand to keep cockles warm and spirits high.
American Invasion

London is gaining two more slices of the states. Acclaimed New York chef Brad McDonald has taken over the kitchen at Lockhart near Marble Arch and is implementing a “deep south” menu for January, while Avenue restaurant in St James’s will also re-launch with a new look and an American-inspired menu next year. Clam chowder served in sourdough, American beef steaks and doughnuts will all feature, along with a hefty bourbon list.
Love It Or Hate It

Indian chef Vivek Singh has launched a Marmite menu at his restaurant Cinnamon Soho. Included on the menu is prawn with a Marmite glaze, chilli and peanut-crusted chicken breast with Marmite korma sauce, and a Marmite and cardamom chocolate mousse with caramelised bananas. We’re not sure whether there is any sponsorship from the famous yeast extract brand, or if the chef is just a fan, but you can try the menu for yourself until the end of February for £35, details are on the restaurant’s website.
New Openings This Week

It’s an international affair for Soho this week, with new openings including Parisian bistro Blanchette, which is brought to us by three French brothers and backed by the Salt Yard Group (who are behind recent opening Ember Yard). House of Ho opened its doors (on soft launch with 50% off food until 6 January), with New Zealand chef Bobby Chinn who has two successful restaurants in Vietnam in charge of proceedings; it offers traditional Vietnamese food with modern twists as well as kooky cocktails. Near Leicester Square, Pakistan restaurant group Salt N Pepper have opened their first overseas restaurant, serving traditional Pakistani cuisine.

Out of Soho, things have got a bit meatier for the area around King’s Cross. Honest Burgers, which started out in Brixton Village, opened their fifth site on Pentonville Road this week, while down in Exmouth Market pork-themed restaurant Blackfoot opened last Friday. Coming from the team behind healthy fast-food chain Leon, the menu celebrates all things porcine with charcuterie, belly, pulled pork, ribs, chorizo and bacon all featuring.

That coffee you are drinking might not be so fair trade after all

LIMA, Peru — Are you paying a fair price for your latte every morning?

More than fair, you might think, given the occasional criticisms that Starbucks, the world’s most popular specialty coffee retailer, is too expensive.

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But try telling that to the farmers in Latin America who grow most of the world’s premium java and, in many cases, are not even making ends meet.

Current rock-bottom prices for coffee beans — below cost for many of the region’s growers — and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust, a fungus that slashes harvests, are making their lives a misery.

Although the picture is uneven, from the lush fields of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, to the Andean foothills, many growers are caught in the pincer.

The problem is at its most intense in Mexico, Central America and Peru, which together produce roughly 30 million 132-pound sacks a year of arabica, the beans used in top-end coffees.

“It is a disaster. This has just deepened the poverty,” says Eliseo Condor, of Mountain Coffee exporters, which groups together 600 small growers in the Chanchamayo region of central Peru.

The yellowish fungus eats leaves, causes unripe coffee beans to fall and can kill off swaths of trees. Although the reasons for the latest unprecedented outbreak are unclear, some suspect climate change.

Rust cut Mountain Coffee’s 2013 harvest from 30,000 sacks to 22,000. That’s despite the company’s farmers using fungicide and fertilizer — measures that have increased production costs by 10 percent.

Meanwhile, they are earning an average $175 per sack for their certified organic, fair trade and rainforest-friendly beans, when their breakeven price is $180.

Yet Mountain Coffee’s farmers, most of whom have just an acre or two of coffee as their only source of income, may be among the lucky ones.

By growing certified coffee and having annual contracts for most of their harvest with eight regular buyers, in Europe and the United States, they are largely buffered from the worst effects of the coffee crisis.

Through the company, they also have access to expert assistance to deal with the rust blight and improve their productivity.

But for most small growers, that is not the case. Condor says many of his farmers’ independent neighbors have seen plants die.

Eduardo Montauban, who heads the Peruvian Chamber of Coffee and Cacao, says up to 30 percent of the country’s annual harvest — roughly 1 million sacks — has been lost.

And the ICO says Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean have this year lost a further 2.7 million bags — with the financial hit estimated at more than $1 billion.

A double shot

Meanwhile, the current spot price of around $110 per sack for non-certified arabica does not cover costs for most farmers. For that, Montauban estimates, it would need to hit $130 in the short-term and $160 for long-term sustainability.

Outside of Brazil and Colombia, the double whammy of low prices and rust is similar in much of Latin America.

“Most growers in Guatemala are in real trouble. Coffee simply isn’t viable at current prices,” says Iliana Martinez, general manager of that country’s Esquipulas coffee cooperative.

Production costs in the Central American nation are around $115 a sack for uncertified arabica, she adds, $5 less than the current spot price.

She expects many smallholder farmers to end up switching to more profitable crops — or even emigrate to the US.

“Those who do survive will only be able to do so because they can control labor costs,” she adds.

On larger farms, where seasonal workers harvest the coffee, smaller harvests due to rust have cost jobs. Guatemala, Central America’s No. 2 arabica exporter, has shed 72,500, according to national growers association Anacafe.

Neighboring El Salvador is also cutting tens of thousands of the temporary laborers who handpick the reddish-brown fruit.

The low prices are in part the result of a global glut, including increased production in Brazil and Colombia, according to Mauricio Galindo of the ICO, which supports the global coffee industry and promotes price stability.

Both nations’ growers have been hit by low prices but unlike in other parts of Latin America were more proactive in preparing for the rust blight, including even developing hybrid strains of coffee that are more resistant to it.

As a result, Brazil now produces some 50 million sacks a year — although about one-fifth of that is robusta, used for some lower-quality blends and instant coffee — when previously that amount represented a peak harvest.

Meanwhile in Colombia, the biggest exporter of top-end arabicas, production has recovered from recent lows of 7 million sacks a year and in 2013 hit 10 million.

Thanks to their improved production plus higher yields in Vietnam, there’s a 10-million-bag global surplus this year and the forecast for 2014 is 4.5 million bags, Galindo says.

The picture is further complicated by growing global demand, especially from new markets such as China and India. Meanwhile, even the mature US market has grown 3 percent over the last year.

But that growing demand hasn’t been strong enough to keep prices from sinking.

Coffee is a notorious boom-and-bust crop. The last bad crisis hit when Vietnam burst on the bean scene in the 1990s, flooding the market with cheap robustas and thrusting many Latin American growers into poverty.

That situation helped propel the “fair trade” movement and prompted Starbucks to start its own good-practices system.

According to Galindo, around just 10 percent of the cost of a cup in a cafe or restaurant in Europe or the US is for the beans, with the rest being spent on other overhead such as rent or labor.

That means paying growers, say, 30 percent more could translate to roughly a 3 percent increase in the price for the consumer — assuming roasters and other middlemen in the import-export process agreed to pass on the revenues.

Yet in competitive markets, even such a small rise could lose customers.

“It is tricky. On the one hand you would like to pass on more money to the farmers but on the other you don’t want to harm demand,” Galindo says.

Montauban adds: “It is not about whether the prices are fair or not. This is a commodity and those are the prices that the market sets.”

As for Starbucks, the company buys directly from growers, mainly smallholders in Latin America, and stresses that it pays them above-market rates while providing technical support, including farmer support centers which offer services such as soil analysis.

Although the company won’t divulge pricing information, a Starbucks spokesman said the idea of charging customers more in order to pass the proceeds onto farmers was “provocative and interesting.”

For Condor though, the issue is whether Mountain Coffee can even sell everything it currently produces, with many buyers concerned about rust’s effect on quality of the beans that are harvested

This year, the company was forced to sell a quarter of its certified beans at much lower non-certified rates, he says.

“We don’t even know if anyone will want to buy our organic coffee next year,” he adds. “This is no way to run a business.”

Bacon & Roasted Vegetables for your Holiday Feast.

We’ve got two fabulous roasted veggie recipes that are made better with bacon. Serve them up with Christmas Dinner this year! The first recipe is for Curried Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon. If you don’t like the taste of curry, simply omit it and roast the cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper. But, if you dare to try it, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The spicy, smoky flavor of curry powder perfectly complements savory bacon.

The second recipe is for those with a bit of a sweet tooth. Cinnamon, brown sugar and olive oil are tossed with cubes of butternut squash, then wrapped in bacon and baked in the oven. The crisp bacon and the softly roasted squash are a delicious flavor and texture combo. Make sure and give these little babies time to cool before you pop them in your mouth!

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Curried Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

6 slices cooked, chopped bacon

Directions:

1.Chop cauliflower into florets. Mix olive oil, curry powder (if using), and salt and pepper. Toss with florets.

Sriracha Shipments Stopped for 30 Days Over Food Safety Procedures

The manufacturer of Sriracha hot chili sauce says there won’t be any shortages of the beloved product, but diehards might want to stock up to be sure.

Due to new food safety procedures ordered by the California Department of Public Health, Huy Fong Foods, Inc., of Rosemead, CA, will begin holding its sauces for 30 days before shipping them to stores, effective this week.

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The holding time went into effect after health officials reviewed the sauce production and found that there was no heated kill-step involved. The sauce will now be held at a specified pH level to control for potentially harmful microorganisms.

Officials emphasized they have no reason to believe any existing bottles of the sauce pose a threat, but that they introduced the new procedure as an added safety measure.

The product has been on the market for decades without any reports of food safety issues, but the law has also been around for a long time and applies to all food businesses, the health department said.

Bottles of the hot chili sauce put on hold this week will not be shipped to stores until mid-January.

Recently, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered a Sriracha plant in Irwindale, CA, to partially shut down after nearby residents complained of irritating smells and burning eyes from the plant’s odor.