After two trips to Texas, I've visited Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Fredericksburg. But the place I love most? San Antonio. I've written about ten articles on Texas tourism, but this is my favourite. The good folk at the Globe and Mail sent me to the relatively new Culinary Institute of America San Antonio campus to capture how its changing the Alamo City's food scene and trying to spur a Latin American food revolution.
It’s not the most settling thing I’ve ever seen in a restaurant: the chef is pacing the dining floor with his arms crossed and head down. But then again, Geronimo Lopez is not your typical chef and Nao: New World Flavors is not your typical restaurant. It’s the mouth of the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus, staffed by students on three-week rotations. For Lopez, their Venezuelan instructor and Nao’s executive chef, that means an “opening night” every 21 days, tonight included.
There’s another reason why I suspect Lopez is pacing. As one of America’s few pan-Latin fine dining experiences, Nao – housed behind a wood door massive enough to fortify the Alamo – is on the front lines of schooling diners like me in the next chapter of American cuisine, daring people in the Tex Mex capital to taste unfamiliar and sometimes unpronounceable Latin American flavours that haven’t yet been popularized. Think scallops with smoky panca peppers, coconut-marinated ceviche served with plantain chips, or mushrooms and malanga root broth over pork belly. Those flavours are on their way, and they’re coming fast. [continue reading]
My Alberta Views debut, "Policing the Police," is about the province's police watchdog Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. ASIRT is considered the gold standard, not just in Canada but North America. But while it's been heralded by police forces across the continent, closer to home the organization has been accused of protecting its own above all others.
Policing the Police: How well does Alberta's police watchdog protect citizens and officers?
Everything we know about what really happened to Sammy Sobieh exists in a few minutes of silent video from two stationary security cameras, in which the only thing in focus is the date and time: 08-21-2011 18:56:00.
The first angle, in the back alley of the Edmontonian’s meat shop, shows Sobieh confronting a younger man on a phone. The business owner has a metal tool in his hand but doesn’t raise it. The young man retreats but doesn’t leave.
At 19:00:42 a camera inside the butcher shop’s storage room captures three male officers entering the back door, weapons drawn. Sobieh arrives from the opposite entrance, and upon seeing the police, throws an object to the ground. He stops, arms akimbo. An officer shows him one raised palm. The 60-year-old raises both hands, then drops them, turns around and takes two steps. An officer kicks the back of Sobieh’s leg and grabs his shoulders. A second officer kicks the butcher’s knee and Sobieh falls on his hands. The same officer knees Sobieh’s head, causing him to collapse on his right arm. A third officer helps restrain him and the second kicks Sobieh’s side. The third hammers four blows to the butcher’s back, the second kicks him, presses a knee on his back and then pulls Sobieh’s right arm from beneath him. Sobieh is cuffed, the officers stand—and so begins Edmonton’s most contested allegation of police brutality in recent memory. [continue reading]
Every once in a while I get an assignment that I was born to write. This is one of them.
It's the bizarre tale of a burger chain that is less a franchise than a meme — Burger Baron — and the men who went from rags to riches selling mushroom burgers, including my father. Read the Swerve cover story.
As a bonus, here are some old clippings from when our family opened High Prairie's very first Baron Baron.
(Above) My father, Ahmed Mouallem, cutting the ribbon with Larry Shaben, Alberta's future Minister of Economic Development and Trade. (Below) The South Peace News reports on the grand opening and runs a supplied photo of our family (I'm the one in the onesie).