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The cephalopod octopus — the name means “head foot,” a vestigial shell exists as muscle and is near their head — is on the new menu at Grand Trunk Saloon (GTS) in downtown Kitchener.
The most advanced member of the molluscs, and with cousins cuttlefish and squid, the octopus is an “either / or” ingredient when it comes to cooking it. The collagen that exists within the flesh is similar in the way it behaves to other meat proteins. As it is cooked, the collagen seizes and moisture is extracted and the tentacles curl and tighten significantly. Octopus is therefore best eaten raw, cooked very briefly or simmered for an hour or more.
The menu at GTS includes octopus that has taken the low and slow braised route and is served with hominy (lye-slaked corn) grits, richly seasoned cured tasso ham (a part of Louisiana cookery), pickled chile, okra and tomato.
Other menu items are an empanada and chicken-fried steak — a piece of steak that is cooked like fried chicken would be, another southern U.S. classic dish.