Months ago I learned about Victoria Chef Heidi Fink and signed up for her Culinary Tour of Chinatown, which sounded really interesting. (Sometimes I love planning things far in the future so that I can spend a bunch of time looking forward to the event!) Chef Fink is the former Executive Chef at Re-bar Modern Food restaurant in downtown Victoria – one of my favourites – so I had high hopes that her culinary tour would be fascinating and full of yummy food tips.
The tour took place on Sunday and it turned out to be a fantastic couple of hours. Heidi took us around to several stores in Chinatown and gave us tips and information on Chinese produce, baked goods, groceries, and butcher shop meats. She is quite knowledgeable on Asian cooking, especially Thai cooking, and her enthusiasm for her subject was definitely catching. We tasted a few different types of baked goods and some BBQ chicken and pork, and the whole tour definitely whet my appetite to do a little more ethnic cooking of my own in the future.
Heidi talked often about how we could use the various ingredients that we saw in our cooking, and pointed out good brands of particular items to use. She gave us little hints that I found really useful, such as when you buy coconut milk you should be able to shake the can and hear nothing inside. It shouldn’t slop, it shouldn’t gurgle. I had no idea! I always buy light coconut milk because I’m worried about the calories but in Heidi’s book that is a no-no because she says all you’re doing is paying for the company to water down the good stuff. Makes sense – and really, how often do I buy coconut milk? (Not often, so I might as well get it right.)
I highly recommend this informative and interesting tour if you love to cook or love to eat! It ended with a tea tasting at Silk Road which, ahem, I’ve done a few times lately (now three to be exact) but that is always a lovely experience too. I bought Heidi’s recipe at Silk Road for Lapsang Souchong tea-infused salad dressing which I know is very good because a friend always makes it. Yum!
Although I have never been to one, Chef Fink also teaches cooking classes around Victoria. I’ll have to put this on my ‘to do’ list for the future – she certainly seems to know her stuff and learning like this really helps to reinvigorate my desire to be more creative in the kitchen.