Thursday, May 14, 2009


You'll remember my posts last summer concerning barbecuing. If you don't, follow this link to one of my barbecuing posts in which I discuss heat and smoke control: This is important and relevant to what I am about to discuss.

I own a state-of-the-art barbecue. It is a stainless steel monolith that has given me endless hours of happy grilling and has produced much great food for many friends and loved ones. I love this barbecue. Actually, I traded my decorating services for this rig to a man who owns a barbecue store in British Columbia where I use to live. It was a $1700.00 win fall for me. It was a good trade.

The barbecue is the Enviro Bistro 4500. She bangs! It has 3 burners plus one long back burner for indirect heat during spit roasting. It is nice and big for pumping out the food for a lot of guests. And it gets hot fast. As I said earlier...I love this grill.

I've had a dilemma for quite some time however. You see, where I live now there is no natural gas hookup. And, I don't want to convert the Enviro over to propane just yet. So, I've been cooking on a shitty little barbecue over hot coals for the past two summers. But I'll tell you...the food has tasted much better on that shitty little barbecue than on the Enviro! And that has led to a change in my thinking.

What I have been doing on the Enviro is grilling, not barbecuing. There is a huge difference between the two. Grilling is cooking over high heat quickly. Barbecuing is cooking over low heat slowly. And, there is the smoke.

Barbecuing involves slowly smoking meat over an indirect wood or coal fed fire that releases smoke and flavors the meat as a result. The smoke flavor cannot be achieved by gas grills because no smoke is generated by gas. is our new barbecue. It is the CHAR-GRILLER Super Pro.

It is know in the barbecue world as a "pit smoker." That's kind of like pit fighter or pit bull, huh? Sounds sort of tough, right? "Hey dude, whatcha doin'?" "Ahhh...just throwing some meat down on my pit"

Anyway, it sort of looks like two barbecues in one, right? Well it is and it isn't. The big can on the left is the barbecue. You can load it up with coals and cook on it no problem. But when you want to slow smoke something, you build your fire on the fire box and leave the big cannister cool. The fire box is the little can on the right.

I'm going to get into this in more depth in future posts. Actually I think quite a few of my next posts will deal with the smoking aspect of barbecuing. It should be interesting.

As a chef I appreciate the skill that goes into producing great tasting food. I have to admit, however, that I'm in new territory here. I am not a pro barbecuer. I am learning a new skill on this one. But I am very excited and confident that I will do my homework and be producing some great meals in no time.

Future dishes will include slow smoked ribs and chicken, brisket, pulled pork and salmon for sure.'ll be fun. Ya'll take care now.


I remember a long time ago (probable at least 25 years ago) I use to eat hot veal sandwiches with roasted peppers from this Italian deli. I can't even remember where it was now. But a couple of my friends and I use to get really high and go racing on our motorcycles along the highway and we'd always end up at this deli with the munchies and we'd chow down on a major veal sandwich. That was a lot of fun!

Anyway, living in British Columbia in smaller towns for the past fifteen years I haven't seen hide nor hair of a hot veal sandwich (actually there were a lot of my favorites missing in the small towns but the mountains, clean air and stress-free living made up for it!) and I was wanting one in a sort of passive way for quite some time.

Well...Lola decided to take me to a small Italian sandwich shop the other day for a hot veal sandwich and all I can say is, "Oh yeah."

California Sandwich makes kick-ass Italian sandwiches! They have it down to a science, really. And they should because they have been at it since the late 1960's. According to the old math, that's like...40 plus years. That's a lotta sandaweechs Pisano!

And the cool thing is that it is a family business. They seem to have everyone in the family working in one location or another.

So, I go in for my sandwich and I order it just the way I did years ago, with roasted peppers and mushrooms. I wait about five minutes and they bring me a sandwich as big as my head. They're fast! You place your order and badda-bing-badda-boom, your eatin' it! But besides the speed factor, that's the first thing that gets you - the size. Then...the flavor takes you by the cajones. and drives the point home. This is a great fricken sandwich!!

California Sandwich claims to be Toronto's favorite Italian sandwich shop. I can't really say because I haven't eaten at any other Italian sandwich shop in Toronto. But I know this. I don't have to. I love this place!

California has a simple menu. A breaded veal sandwich which is to die for and a few others. They serve a breaded chicken sandwich which I tried. It was very nice but I prefer the veal. I think I'm just veal deprived after not having it for so long. And there are a few others...including meatball.

Anyway, I had to tell you all about it. Everyone knows anyway. I think I'm the last to find out.


Lola and I plan to take my kids for their first experience at California this weekend. I'll be taking pictures of the food and adding it into this post right after. So be patient, pictures are coming!!

In the meantime, check out the link to their website and make plans to try this place for yourself.

Ciao for now!