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Book review - Chase of the Rising Sun - Colin Rink · Monday July 4, 2022 by colin newell

Colin Rink - author of Chase of the Rising SunI grew up out in the countryside listening to the national broadcaster of Japan, NHK, on the shortwave spectrum. In the 1970’s, international broadcasting was about to enter its peak before a swift decline in the 1990’s.

Inasmuch as I knew about Japan, from what I was taught in school, watched on television (with the requisite twisted stereotypes more typical of 1960’s television), I was always fascinated by this mysterious culture. A society, largely closed to the rest of the World, save for tourism. NHK radio opened up some of the secrets of this nation and I was hooked.

In Colin Rink’s debut novel, Chase of the Rising Sun, Colin crafts a tale of adventure, intrigue, romance and tragedy around one Mark Rasper, a newly minted 30 year old from Vancouver B.C. who is eager to break free. Rasper has tired of his job, the shallowness of his relationships and succumbs to a yearning for travel and a fresh start.

Obsessed with Japanese culture and traditions, Rasper pulls up all his stakes and heads to Tokyo with a small suitcase, backpack and the barest of minimums of Japanese fluency. Propelled by a solid job opportunity from his Vancouver employer, Rasper finds himself immediately over his head as if overwhelmed by the power of a Pacific tsunami.

For those that have bookmarked Japan as a future destination, Chase of the Rising Sun is as much a thriller as it is a tourist masterclass on what awaits the first time visitor. Attention to detail is exquisite. The sights, sounds and smells of the Tokyo culinary scene literally waft off each page as the reader is slowly drawn into the fray.

Rink leaves few aspects of Japanese daily life off of the table – which reinforces the solidity and believability of “Rising Sun.” Whether it is the almost insurmountable task of merely “fitting in” or getting a more complete understanding of the work culture, to the habit of “work hard, work long hours and drink impossible amounts of liquor late into the night…” Rink does not miss one rhythm of this nations mysterious heart beat.

I found Chase of the Rising Sun to be an immediately breezy read – with a familiarity to it that was more a byproduct of my preexisting knowledge of this cryptic and often contradictory society. For those seeking a culinary or cultural shockwave to Japan, this is a must read or must pack along. From the food and beverage aspect of the novel, the cuisine alone is a sufficient enticement to drop what you are doing and buy a ticket pronto! And by the way, this book is not a foodies guide to the land of the Rising Sun – but more an extension of the author’s literacy. And I loved it.

Chase of the Rising Sun would be a great first book with some tame adult content for teens – but enjoyed immensely by this 60 year old. There are some surprising twists and turns in the novel. If there was one bone to pick, I genuinely wanted more – and I was left not knowing – which made the denouement of the book… well, I’ll let you find out for yourself!

Chase of the Rising Sun is available in most reputable bookstores and on Amazon!

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and lover of coffee and cocktail culture – and occasionally reviews a book or two. Read? Me? You bet – and you should too!


Sourdough Rye Bread · Saturday May 21, 2022 by colin newell

Sourdough bread is, as history tells us, the World’s first bread.

Ingredients include water, salt, flour and natural yeast – and not the yeast that comes out of the jar – the stuff that is all around is at all times… in the air, on the ground, on our skin… yea, there too – everywhere. It is the natural leavening agent that has been with us forever.

It is also said that man cannot live on bread alone — while that is not entirely true, I think what they meant was that we need to mix it up a bit – as in adding darker flours, like rye and whole wheat! Now that is definitely better for you.

In this recipe we do not talk about sourdough starter, levain and such like… you need to research that in advance – this is a recipe for a moderately advanced baker. Need help – email me or get Googling!


1.) Grab a bowl that will hold at least 1/2 kg of dough – that is 500G – so something medium sized.

2.) Add 100g of your ready sourdough starter to the bowl. (It is ready when a spoonful floats in water…)

3.) Add 10g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.

4.) Add 360g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but definitely not hotter than that.

5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well. Add a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses for some sweetness and depth of color. Add 1-2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.

6.) Gradually add 230g of white flour, 230g of whole-wheat flour and 52g of rye flour.

You can use a mixer. I do this by hand or with a bread mixing hook.
Work/knead the dough to form a sticky ball.

Stretch and fold – To develop the gluten in the dough, it is important to stretch and fold the dough twice an hour for the first 2 hours and then once more before putting in the fridge to develop/ferment overnight.

There are many awesome YouTube tutorials on the “Stretch and Fold” so find one you like and develop your technique. Note video below!

7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some. For keeping the dough “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.

Rule: Higher room temperature, faster “development” and fermentation of the dough.

8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning the dough should have doubles in size – or more. Pull out the dough and toss it onto a floured bread board or surface you are happy scattering flour on.

9.) Here is another learning moment – (find a suitable YouTube video…[example below]) This is where you work the dough a bit and pull, fold and shape into a “loaf” and drop into a floured or parchment papered loaf pan.
Do consult the internets on technique because it is extra difficult to describe in words alone.

10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours… even 8 hours… or overnight again… in the fridge.

12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours. Dress with additional caraway seed. Slash with a razor (see the video below!)

13.) Bake for 24-28 minutes at 475 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. You are looking for a core temperature of at least 190 (F)

14.) If baking in a Dutch Oven, bake for the first 17-20 minutes with the cover on -
and then for another 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees — or until core TEMP of 190 (F)

Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t do it! You lose a lot of moisture by cutting the bread too soon.
Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and pop culture writer – active on the internets since 1994! That is a long time. His features on pop culture, food and beverage things have been around here…. well… forever!


Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies with Olive Oil · Monday May 16, 2022 by colin newell

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie

There are few flavours more perfectly mated than peanut butter and chocolate. It could very well be the greatest taste accident of all time. In this recipe I riff on the previous Bon Appetit take on the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Take out the tahini, add in peanut butter and hope for the best. I am quite literally trying this for the first time. Fingers crossed!

Update: These cookies are amazing – I have tested them on colleagues and the eye rolls appeared to be pleasure based.


1 ¾ cups (222g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup (97g) extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cups (148g) brown sugar
½ cups (50g) white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon black strap molasses (optional)

2 chilled eggs (120 g)

½ cup (145g) creamy peanut butter – I use a dark roast peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ – ¾ cups of chopped dark chocolate chips OR light chocolate chips


Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, corn starch, baking soda, and salt.
Set aside

In a large mixing bowl combine olive oil, all of the sugars (including molasses) and eggs, and vanilla.

Electric blend until very creamy.

Add in peanut butter butter and mix until combined. (Actually, as creamy as possible…)

Using a rubber spatula, mix in the dry ingredients you set aside earlier. Mix until just combined.
Add the chopped chocolate and either mix in with a rubber spatula, or knead using your hands.

Chill the dough for 2 – 4 hours or (even better) overnight.

Scoop about 1-2 tablespoons of dough into your hands and roll into balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes (for smaller cookies) [16 minutes for bigger cookies…] or until the edges are golden brown.

Sprinkle Fleur de sel on top.

Let cookies rest on a baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool. Honestly, these are super tasty after they have cooled off – and even the day after.
Ideally, the dough can chill for several days (but be careful! Raw eggs after all…). The dough also freezes just fine.

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident, coffee and technology expert and often-times baker. He knows his way around a dough hook and has infested the internet with his zany ideas since 1995!


Penne Pasta with Bigeye tuna, anchovy and garlic · Tuesday April 26, 2022 by colin newell

Penne Pasta with garlic, anchovy and tuna

Umami. You live for it. You love for it. This is the zest and flavour of life. This dish is packed with all those things you long for.

It’s yummy and nutritious with every bite.

Click on the photo for the big view

It pairs well with a blustery red wine – like a Malbec or Syrah… and you can even tease yourself with a Negroni beforehand.

The Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced or crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 (6 oz) can imported Tuna in Olive oil (see footnotes)
  • 2 ounces (or more) Anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red Chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) can Whole Tomatoes, pureed (roasted for extra zest)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Pasta preferably Penne to serve two

Let’s do this

Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet or non-stick pan.
Saute the garlic cloves very briefly just until aromatic.

Add the tuna and a suitable serving of anchovies.
As indicated above, not all tinned tuna are created equal. We found an ocean wise, lightly smoked Portuguese Bigeye Tuna at a local organic market. Get the best. You’ll be glad you did.

Stir to break up the tuna and anchovy fillets. Anchovy requires very little effort to integrate into most dishes – they practically melt… and where Umami is your goal, these little salty fillets are your best friend!

Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with the dried herbs and add the chili flakes, if using.

Add the pureed Tomatoes and then simmer for 10 minutes (while the pasta cooks). Season with a little salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour in the heavy cream and cook until heated up. Add 3/4 of your Parm-Reg cheese and continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

When the pasta is cooked, mix with the sauce. Serve with more cheese on top, if desired. Garnish with flat leaf parsley for an extra zing of green flavour – and you can also add a twist of fresh lemon juice or a small palm full of capers – the acid from this addition will balance the big Umami experience here.

This serves up two large servings with enough left over for a next day lunch. Alternately, you can invite 2 more people over and celebrate life, the Universe and everything.

Closing thoughts

This dish is an example of cooking where small tweaks of the ingredients can make a big difference. There are lots of opportunities to use your imagination. Find your local gourmet markets and spin for quality components. Here in Victoria we have so many great little stores that carry hard to find ingredients. Yes, they might be a couple bucks more but the proof is in the eating. Put a smile on someones face – cook thoughtfully – drink heartily… and enjoy each day like there is no tomorrow.
Victoria resident and guy with a shopping basket permanently attached to his right hand, Colin Newell, has been writing about food and drink for decades. He believes that a dish is only as good as the things that go into it and the wine you wash it down with…


Pan-fried Sesame Garlic Tofu · Wednesday April 20, 2022 by colin newell

Your sesame Garlic Tofu

Tofu. You love it or hate it. It’s your kryptonite. Your weekend friend. Your arch nemesis.

At best, I have struck an uneasy allegiance with Tofu – but it might be a case of “getting to know you better…” Give it time.

This inning, for whatever reason, the combination of condiments and grilled additions (asparagus) lead a siren song that had me quickly hooked.


  • Refrigerated 14 oz Tofu, extra firm


  • 1 tsp Garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce, low-sodium

Baking & Spices

  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch

Oils & Vinegars

  • 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil


  • 1/4 cup Water


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • There are legion other options for dressings, applications, sprinkles and salves for this dish – I mean really. Hot sauces… just getting started. We noted that perhaps touch more honey might have been in order to sweeten this bad girl. 2 TSP of honey was very light – and just barely achieved a balance with the other savouries. You be the judge. This is your dish,


Place two paper towels on a plate then place the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the plate.
Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a heavy item on top. Not TOO heavy that it would completely crush the tofu but heavy enough that it can squeeze out liquid.

Tools: I like using a cast iron skillet…. but a good non-stick is fine.

The Tofu press: Leave for 30 minutes and halfway through, change out the paper towels.

ALTERNATIVELY and more eco-friendly: place a wire baking rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place tofu on top and then put a heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes.
Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.

In your large skillet, add sesame oil and vegetable oil then bring up to medium-high heat.

Once oil is heated up, add the tofu to the skillet and let brown on all sides.
In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.

Once the tofu has browned and crisped up on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet and it should start to thicken immediately. Toss the tofu around to coat then remove from heat.

Serve on Jasmine rice – garnish with raw scallions, toasted sesame or pan seared asparagus – the sky is the limit on toppings so sit back and enjoy!

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident, long time writer on the subject of cafe culture and trends in food. His musing on the subject of good eating have decorated the internet since 1995.


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