Andreas J. Düss

Founding Partner & Chief Creative at Nourish Food Marketing.

Voracious reader, passionate cook, monumental geek.

On the interwebs since 1999



Meet Suvie, the Robot Kitchen

One of my favourite podcasts at the moment is the Smart Kitchen Show, produced by Michael Wolf from the Smart Kitchen Summit.

In his most recent podcasts, he introduces Suvie, a robo-kitchen combining fridge and cooking appliance, with sous vide, steaming and cooking capabilities all in an appliance not much larger than a microwave. It’s a mix of the Jetsons meeting today’s consumer trends, where meal assembly trumps cooking from scratch and convenience rules supreme.

Worth a listen.

Seasoning salts

Seasoning salts have been one of these things I kept reading about, but then not following up. My chef friends swear by them, as a quick and surefire way to season proteins with an added boost of flavour.

So finally, I decided to hop onto the bandwagon, after yet another recommendation, this time by Nigel Slater in Eat. My enthusiasm was being aided by a surplus of lovely fresh dill, thyme, and chives in the kitchen, all of which needed to be used before wilting away.

I decided on two flavorings, one Nordic and cool for fish and one warming and Mediterranean for poultry and pork.

For the fish seasoning salt I finely chopped a large bunch of dill and zested an organic lemon. The resulting mix was spread on a quarter-sized sheet pan (one of the most undervalued tools in any kitchen – I could not imagine cooking without them) and left to dry for 12 hours before mixing with kosher salt on a 1/3 ratio.

The warming mix contains finely chopped thyme, chives, garlic, lemon zest with a generous sprinkling of fennel seeds. Again, this mix was dried and then mixed with kosher salt.

I’m storing the salts in vintage mason jars and they should be good for a couple of months – although I can’t imagine they will keep that long. The first outing for the Nordic Salt was with a lovely piece of salmon cooked sous vide. It was perfect, with just a hint of lemon and dill.

Germany 2015

It was high time to see the families back in the old country. Both Anja’s mom and my parents are getting on in years and while both have visited us in Canada, we don’t foresee any more international travel for either of them. Apart from Skype calls, neither of our parents had met the twins in person yet. Apart from that, there was a wedding and friends to be visited.

I have to be honest at this point – I did not want to go. I hate flying at the best of times, and the idea of flying with three young kids filled me with horror. I don’t sleep on planes, and have always hated the flight east. A short, sleepless, night followed by a disorientated, grumpy, day and relentless jet lag. When I am on my own, I can just grump away, but with the family, that’s not an option.

But, it was the right thing to do, so we booked the family onto an Air Canada flight to Copenhagen – Anja’s brilliant idea. Copenhagen is only about 250km from Sierksdorf, the village on the Baltic Sea where she grew up, and where we were renting an apartment. Copenhagen, the Scandinavian air travel hub, is also a direct flight from Toronto – no changing planes in Frankfurt, the German hub, which would have been a nightmare. My parents would take the train up and visit for a week.

Paying for five full price tickets meant that we had no option but go for cramped Economy seats. Anja did the booking and, thank you, thank you, thank you, got me seated in the emergency row, with ample legroom for my 6’6′ frame. Air Canada flies the new Boing Dreamliner on the Scandinavian route and it was indeed a beautiful, spotless, plane with large windows, ample headroom and all mod-cons. Boing did a great job on the plane, if only they could design an economy seat one could sit in in comfort for longer than an hour at the max. We eyed the large seats in Business and Premium Economy with envy as we were herded towards the back of the plane.

There is no way around it, the night flight to Europe was uncomfortable. The kids were overtired but even they had a hard time sleeping in their small seats and only crashed out periodically. Thankfully the flight was fast, six and a half hours, and when we landed in Copenhagen we were in better shape than I would have predicted.

Also, there was Starbucks, and two large coffees later we felt we were ready to take on the day.

But we weren’t out of the woodwork yet. Copenhagen Airport managed to lose half the plane’s luggage, including ours, on the runway for an hour, with neither apology nor reason forthcoming. This was followed by Avis trying to cram us into a tiny Toyota – despite us booking a seven seater people mover three months in advance.

Terse words ensued, centred around the idea of customer service in general and the deplorable state thereof at Copenhagen Airport. We finally settled on a brand new VW Passat station wagon. Still cramped, but at least the luggage and all three kids fitted in – just.

We strapped in and set off. At the first traffic light, the engine stopped. Confusion ensued until I realized that this was normal behaviour. Taking my foot off the brake instantly re-started the Passat’s diesel engine and we were ready to go again. All of this was happening in the name of fuel economy and worked extremely well. Despite putting well over 1000km on the car, we only had to fill it up once. German engineering at its finest.

The drive out of Copenhagen was painless, even with extensive roadworks. Waze instantly recognized we were travelling, and while we had to reset the language from Danish to English, worked just as well as it does in Toronto – helped by the fact that mobile internet in Denmark is fast and available almost anywhere (unlike in Germany, but more on that later). I had originally planned to purchase a Danish and German Sim card for our phones phone, but Rogers roaming fees these days are extremely reasonable – use your phone just like you use it at home, data and calls, and pay a maximum of $100. Beats purchsing local data access in my book, so that’s the deal we went with and it was worth every cent. Emails arrived instantly, although texts took a little longer, phone calls were made without even thinking about it.

The VW came with its own, very capable, onboard navigation system so between the two screens we managed to avid the worst of the traffic and soon found ourselves in the lush Danish countryside, on our way to Germany. The kids, at this time, were fast asleep in the back.

Several long bridges and one windy ferry ride later, we arrived in Germany and pulled in at our apartment.

Day 2

I arrive at the marina at 10:00, as instructed. Fearless is still in the water where I left her, but somebody had walked her down the dock without a fender and shaved off some paint on her side. Great.

The guy who works the crane lets me know that I need to assemble the mast back together, telling me for the tenth time that he “doesn’t do” sailboats and knows nothing about them and that the mast is entirely my responsibility. This does not fill me with confidence. U., the owner of the marina who I arranged this job with, is nowhere to be seen.

So, I start figuring out the mast. Ok, these look like spreaders. Ok, this looks like a piece of metal that will fit through the mast, holding the spreaders. Look there, bolts. Everything makes sense, everything fits together. While I am at it, I fix a running light that has come off during transit. I am feeling better about this. Perhaps even a little smug because I just assembled a mast for the first time. I should have known that was a mistake.

Mast assembled, time passes. Boats get put into the water, I am still waiting. And waiting. And beginning to get both hungry and pissy – with me, these two are closely related. Crane guy is doing everything possible to avoid putting my mast up, a job I booked two weeks ago.

Finally, U. arrives, the boss man. Skin like leather, false teeth the colour of ivory, big black sunglasses. Heino’s less successful brother, with a thick German accent. Crane guy is clearly terrified of his boss, his bluster evaporating.

U. lets me know that it’ll be my turn two boats from now, but that I will have to help. I’m cool with that, just want to get the hell out of this place by now. I am contemplating a quick jog to T&T for a restorative order of dumplings and rice, but am too worried that I will lose my spot. I end up wasting time worrying that I could have used to run and get lunch. It’s close to 1:30 by now, my stomach is rumbling and my mood is deteriorating.

45 minutes later and it’s my turn – finally. Crane guy tells me he has a maximum of 15 minutes to do the job and I lose it – shout at him he will do the job he’s been fucking hired to do and it’ll take as long as it will take to do it properly. Scattered applause from various marina bystanders with bad teeth and cigarette breath. U. is laughing so hard at the spectacle of his underling being shouted at that he launches himself into a coughing fit I am worried he won’t recover from – I might face a murder charge here. But recover he does, slaps me on the shoulder, tells me he likes my spirit. The crane gets fired up, diesel fumes everywhere and the mast gets lifted – U. at the controls, crane guy, now exceedingly meek, with me on the Fearless trying to direct it.

Crane guy keeps telling me he’s got no idea what he’s doing. I really, really, really want to punch him, but I am too busy being terrified, furious and wrangling a 45ft aluminum pole. The mast is swinging wildly, lines are getting tangled. We finally wrestle it down on deck – crane guy tells me to connect the wiring for the running lights. All I can think of is that I will lose the fingers of at least one hand if U. makes even the slightest mistake at the controls.

But he doesn’t and finally, miraculously, the mast stands. I rush to fit the rigging – and nothing fits together. Looks like the Fearless needs to be rigged in a specific sequence, with different hole diameters for different bolts securing different lines. 15 minutes of thinking “fuck if I drop this bolt/wire/screwdriver into the water I am really fucked, fuck, fuck, fuck” pass. I am sweating. The phone rings, I ignore it. Rings again, I ignore it again. Finally look down, it’s Anja. “Are you ok?” “Not a good time honey, talk later”. Ping – a text. “I’m freaking out, are you alive?”

Step back.

“Hey, yeah, everything is going to be ok. Love ya.”

Deep breath. Ok, where where we? Mast seems to be up. Riggings seems to be secure. All fingers, present. Good news, for once.

Remove the sling from the mast. Look up and see the wind vane has been bent, but I am too relived with the mast being up to make a big thing about it just then – although it means that I will have to get up the mast at some time in the future. More opportunities to be terrified, yeah.

Oh, and a lifeline has been pulled out of the railing because crane guy stepped on it. Otherwise – all is well and I carefully walk the Fearless down the dock and tie her up.

Next, the engine. J., the mechanic, saunters over. Looks like Frank Sinatra, smells like a pack of Marlboros soaked in diesel. Steps down into the boat, we open the engine compartment. I checked the batteries, I know we got a full charge. The previous owner had disconnected the spark plugs, the distributor cap and loosened the alternator – a strange thing to do but most likely to reduce strain on the alternator belt.

Ten minutes later, I turn the key. She starts. Instantly. Immediately. Purrs like a kitten. Let her run a minute, up the revs. Check the exhaust – no water being pumped out. Uh-oh, she’s not pulling cooling water. Run to switch her off, she stops by herself before I can get to the key. Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK, I seized the engine. J. calms me down – the engine wasn’t running long enough to get damaged – he thinks we just run out of fuel, just burned what was in the carburetor.

We disconnect the fuel line, it’s dry. The tank must be empty. But I remember the previous owner telling me that the tank was full for winter, to stop rust. So we hunt for a cut-off valve, finally find it. Fuel starts running, we reconnect the line, she starts. Still no water in the exhaust, but we can feel the water pump running – switch off the engine and hunt for a cut off valve on the water intake which we finally find all the way back in the engine compartment. It’s stuck close.

Disconnect the hose, pry it open, water begins to flow in. Fuck, are we sinking now? The bilge pump kicks in. Water pours into the bilge. We close the valve, unstuck now, reconnect the hose, the water stops. Start the engine once more and wait. Water flows out of the exhaust, meaning the engine is getting cooled. Fuel is flowing, the alternator is charging. We’re good. Transmission works, we get movement. Sweet. Also, the bilge pump stops. Thank fuck.

Time to pay up. I argue with U. about the damage done, finally take $100 off the bill for launching Fearless and stepping the mast. He is more embarrassed, and apologetic, than I thought he’d be.

I run to T&T. Lunch, finally. Noodles, chicken and broccoli, iced green tea. I am beginning to feel vaguely human again. We’ve got a boat. There’s a mast on our boat. The engine is running – and not just running, it’s running in a way that says “I won’t conk out on you ten minutes from now in the middle of the harbour just for comedic effect”.

Next step, take her across the Toronto Harbour to Muggs Island. David, who runs the boating services for the Island Yacht Club, and is the owner of a Harbour License (I am not) gets dropped off by the club tender. He offered to come with me on the trip across and right then I could not think of anybody I’d rather see – he EXUDES calm, collected, competence. He’s the exact opposite of U. and his smelly band of unkempt renegades.

As we make ready to leave there’s one last delay – I need to find my cradle so Davind can arrange to get a barge and have it moved to the Muggs Island. I look for crane guy and find him with his butt sticking out of the engine compartment of the big yellow crane – which happens to be suspiciously silent and has a 34′ sailboat in the slings, gently swaying in the breeze. The owner of the 34′ is standing underneath his boat and freaking out in all kinds of interesting ways.

Looks like he had his boat taken up ready to be launched, but wanted a minute to hit the pad marks caused by his cradle with anti-fouling paint. U. took his boat up, switched off the crane and when he wanted to switch it back on again the starter motor was fried.

Now, this is not the kind of thing you hop over to Canadian Tire to fix. This is a big, a monstrous, yellow crane, with a big white boat stuck in a sling. Damn. My previous problems fade into insignificance somewhat. There’s an angry line up of boaters who all wanted their boats launched, there’s much German swearing, by now there are multiple ass cracks sticking out of the crane’s engine bay. There’s a huge fucking spark and loud yelps of pain, in multiple languages, when they’re trying, without success, to short circuit the starter motor.

David and I look at each other and tip-toe off, find the Fearless cradle ourselves and decide to deal with the removal at another time.

I start the engine. David throws the lines aboard, hops in. I put the boat into forward, and just like that, she starts moving. Last time I piloted a boat was 20 years ago, but she is so easy to move I have no issue at all taking her away from the dock and out into the lake. Once out, I up the revs – damn, a huge squeal. We didn’t tighten the alternator up enough, the belt is slipping. But no worries, we have two batteries at full charge, enough to get us across even with zero charge from the engine. We rev the engine down and the belt grips again, so we trade speed for silence and are on our merry way.

My day has improved.

There’s a connection with the boat – the thing I was scared of most was being scared of her. Turns out I am not. I am aware of my limitations, my beginner-status, my lack of experience, but I am not scared. And the Fearless doesn’t hate me. She moves smoothly, gracefully, deliberately through the water. Even I, a total novice, can feel how capable she is, that this is what she was built to do.

I have got a huge grin on my face. The sun is shining. The 50 year old engine below my feet is purring away. The Redpath Sugar plant is passing on the starboard bow. We continue to Muggs Island and David takes over, gently moves her into her new home. Lines get connected, engine off.

Silence.

Done.

“Fancy a beer?”

“Damn right.”

Ready to go for 2016

The composting toilet is installed. The awning is repaired. The date to have the hitch on the Dodge reinforced has been set.

Summer can’t come fast enough.

From Honda to Dodge

Our Honda Odyssey had been doing a great job for the last three years, but I knew I wanted to sell it while it would still bring a decent price on the second hand market. We had been, casually, looking on Autotrader for either a Dodge Durango or a Mercedes GL, our shortlisted vehicles. While… Continue Reading

Catching up

This blog has been sadly neglected, but that’s the way it goes with young kids around. Life’s busy. Additionally, 2015 just wasn’t a good Airstream year for us. There were mishaps, breakdowns, lack of time, lack of planning, missed opportunities. Few trips jelled. Part of this was due to our extended travel to Europe, to… Continue Reading

New show reel

Over the last year, we’ve been shooting more and more beautiful food videos. So much so, that it was high time for a new showreel. Take a look, but don’t blame me if you’re ending up hungry. Continue Reading

Special K tells women to stop dieting (also, hell freezes over)

Consumers have never been smarter about food, and the desire for real food in a real world has gone mainstream. Food producers are being forced to re­formulate, with real ingredients and no preservatives, colours or additives. And this consumer-driven movement is also forcing brand messaging to show consumers as real people – as Special K… Continue Reading

More on ad blocking – the 2015 PageFair report.

I am a bit preoccupied with ad blocking at the moment, but there is a reason for it. Since reading The Cluetrain Manifesto in a hotel room in SF many years ago, I’ve been a firm believer in the rise of the power of the consumer. Markets are conversations, and the conversations of the consumers… Continue Reading