Seriously, how often do you ever give a car dealership a thumbs up?
With all due to respect to my buddy John Hyman, who works at the dealership in question…no one who isn’t a car fanatic LIKES to take their car in for maintenance. That said I do really enjoy my Dodge Journey, but the dealership I bought it from is completely out of date in both its looks and its accessibility (showroom and service location). After one difficult time navigating it for the first maintenance on the vehicle…I knew I had to look elsewhere. So imagine my surprise and pleasure in finding a place that actually leads me to perhaps my first ever COMPLEMENT on access!
Eastway Chrysler Service…no stairs, staff that were able to remember me after just one visit and unload my chair before I had even opened my car door! Fully accessible facilities in the waiting area, free WIFI (hey if I’m going to have to wait, this is vital…even if I am just playing Jetpack Joyride on my Playbook). It has one of the easy access garages, just drive in, explain what you need to the service manager and either sit in their waiting area, or get a shuttle back to work. Everything is on one level and it’s easy to roll out from service right to the showroom floor. No stairs to navigate. The washroom is even wheelchair accessible for the stall! (seriously…I can’t keep harping on how important washroom’s are…can I businesses?)
What really impressed me though wasn’t just the layout and thought in the design of the place…it was the people. I had to make two visits within a two-week period…just due to my own scheduling. On the second visit, the moment I drove in, one of the guys was already at the back of the car unloading my chair for me and asking where best to put it. THAT makes one hell of an impression no matter how small a detail it may seem. They made sure to open the doors for me and kept me in the loop as I awaited the work to be done, even good for a few laughs.
If I had one criticism, it would be to suggest adding an auto open button on the bathroom, as the door opens in an odd way that interferes with the stall door if not careful…but really that is minor…even if it is the kind of thing I pay much more attention to these days….go figure. So it’s rare…but if I’m going to gives #AccessFails then I also need to give #AccessWins.
Good on Eastway Chrysler…and thanks to John for getting me there.
Seriously…what is it with Yorkville?
I’ve ranted about this area of Toronto before, but as I had to wheel around it again today, I keep getting struck dumb by how bad this VERY expensive area of Toronto’s shopping mecca is for anyone with a mobility issue. I’m not just talking about wheelchairs here. Walkers? Forget it. Scooters? Better use the road and hope a cop is around to escort you. Getting into a store good luck!
In the several block stretch of downtown Toronto, I’ve already had 3 spills from my chair, all due to horrible sidewalk and curb construction…so I was encouraged today to see that there was repair work going on through the area that has dumped me on my knees (I’m sitting after all, so kind of hard to get dumped on my ass) several times just trying to pop over sidewalk blocks. Granted the construction was on the side of the road I needed to use…so I had the fun of crossing busy Bay Street with no lights or cross walk! Thank you to the cop who saw me and stopped traffic to let me pass. This isn’t really the point of this rant though, because at least they seem to be doing SOME work. No, this one is about the actual shops in the area…and one in particular.
Yep…that high end jewelry retailer. Take a look below and wonder what I am talking about.
Looks quite nice and classy doesn’t it? High end marble-like walls…and a gleaming ultra clean (even midwinter) revolving door.
And no other door.
Now look…I know I am not their target market…I’m not rich, I’m not female and I don’t really go for overpriced chotskies ..but…I know Shannon is somewhat partial to their stuff (I’m male…I’ll never understand why…I just accept that and move on).
Seriously Tiffany? This is one of your premier stores in Toronto…and there is no way that ANYONE in a wheelchair, much less a walker could make it into your store on their own. It’s things like this, in upscale locations that don’t have an excuse for costs, the make me shake my head. I know it’s a small market…I know that architects often don’t even think of it. Seriously though…you are basically telling anyone with mobility issues…we don’t want your business.
And don’t go telling me that there is a fully accessible store up at Yorkdale in an indoor mall…only store I’ve ever seen with closed doors during normal shopping hours…and bloody heavy ones too.
Complete #AccessFail on that one Tiffany’s.
Last week I posted a blog about the difficulties of being a chair during the winter. How lucky I had been during my first winter in the chair I rely on so much to keep my life semi-normal (whatever that means)…but this winter has been more of what December through March should be. Wild, woolly, shivery and snowy. What a Canadian Winter should be.
Before all of this (as I refer to the last three years collectively), I remember absolutely loving winter. I never minded the cold. I loved harsh and blowing snowstorms that seemed to be the rage of nature reminding us mere mortals how little we really control or understand. I loved bundling up and trundling through snow up to my knees, looking out on fields of untouched snow that seemed to go on forever, never sure when I was going to step into the next massive and unseen deep snow drift. Now I grant, this was years ago…back when Toronto still had some empty spaces that hadn’t been filled with chock-a-block cookie cutter subdivisions and massive condo towers. This was when we still had some open farm space that didn’t take driving an hour out of the city to find.
I love winter. To me it was the most pure time of the year. You could see everything stripped back and bare. The trees no longer blocked views that leaves would obscure in the summer. The sunrise and sunsets are always so low to the horizon…providing some of the most spectacular view, whether in the city or out in the boonies (as my sister-in-law would call Markham). I loved getting out on snowmobiles, even snowshoes, cross-country skiing (both of which I was terrible at…remind me one day to tell the story of my attempt to wax up a pair of cross-country skis and the hilarious result), hell I even did a bit of downhill skiing which once ended with me face first in a fence before the ski lift, and with Arthur almost driving a van full of us of an icy cliff. Those memories of winter are perhaps more vivid in my mind (and thus perhaps more modified with time) than my memories of any other season.
It truly is amazing, just how a change in health can change a view of a season.
Once it was a time to escape and explore whole new worlds…hell I even mountain biked through ice-covered trails in Durham Forest…how I didn’t end up broken in some backwoods trail I’ll never know.
Now…it’s a different thing. Now it is a season of excuses. Of reasons. Of logic. Of being safe.
In the back of my mind I need to remind myself…My spine is a mess that MRI’s can barely decipher. I have a shunt that impacts are not good for. Oh and an ankle held together by plates and screws. When I look out my window in the morning, or see a weather alert on TV…I know longer get that flash of excitement at the prospect of taking the dog for bounding walk through impossible snow and getting in soaked to the bone, waiting for a hot chocolate to warm me up.
Now…it’s a question of risk assessment. Is the snow too deep for the wheelchair. Has it melted and gone icy to be impossible to take the short walk from house to car with my walker? Is it worth the risk of fall? Can I work from home, despite going stir crazy at times? So many excuses for not tackling the season…for staying safe…for being a minor hermit who huddles down for the winter, awaiting the muck and mud of the coming spring. Several times this winter, I have had calls telling me to stay home, to not risk it. Several times we’ve started out on trips out, only to turn around…partly because the roads were bad…partly because we weren’t sure I could make it from the car to whatever our destination was.
Now note, I say none of this in a search for sympathy…more just to get the frustration of it out in the world.
Bear with me on a bit of stray along the garden path (it’s buried out back right now). I just got my new Blackberry Z10 on the weekend, after Arthur’s attempt to surprise me with it that was spoiled by my own attempts at Sherlockian deduction. I’ve been playing with it a lot in the last few days…and even hope to start posting some blogs while on the road from it. During my exploration of it I discovered the interesting BlackBerry Keep Moving projects…and the ones by Author Neil Gaiman caught my eye. Now don’t get me wrong…I realize fully it just a well done marketing plan for the Z10…and I’m fine with that…when they are using artists who don’t mind using marketing to get a message across. He made a point in one posting…about all of us having a point of view that is all our own…and no one else that can have that point of view. If we don’t create something from that point of view, we deprive the world of it.
Right now…this is my life. This season of winter, as I adjust to it, as I learn to live from a different point of view (with the amazing support I have of Shannon and my friends and family), it is something worth sharing in my own clumsy way. Winter was once a season of adventure to me. For now it is more a season of hibernation…of stir crazy…or entrapment. I hope to change that as time goes on. I hope to share some of that transformation (hey maybe I can use that marketing for the Z10 to inspire some new uses for it). So who knows what this season will produce…from random thoughts, to random scenes to even more random imagination.
Being entrapped can force your mind to explore new places of it…else you fear losing yourself to the dark corners of it…where the temptation to become a hermit gets to be just a bit TOO tempting. Hearing that wind howling out there tonight, after the flash freeze today does tempt me to not wander far tomorrow. Yet I will.
We’ll see what adventures winter brings a geek on wheels. I may not be quite ready for sledge hockey or downhill skiing for the disabled…but who knows…40 is just a number right?
That being said…for the first time in my life…I can’t wait for fracking spring!!!
Ok, let’s get this out-of-the-way immediately. In my first winter of being in a wheelchair (2011-12) I got spoiled. Toronto barely had anything we could even call a winter, with the least amount of snow in decades. I think there was one day with enough snowfall that I felt it wasn’t safe for me to stumble out to the car and deal with the chance of slipping. So I really didn’t get a great idea of how being in a chair would be once real snow hit.
This winter is certainly changing that.
Now, look…I already know I’ve whined and moaned and bitched about this on Facebook, even promised to make the statement every winter for rest of my life. That brought the standard links to high-powered tank tread wheelchairs, questions about chains on the tires and the like. It’s all very haha and I do appreciate the humour…but it really doesn’t get to the reality of what you have to deal with as the weather gets bad. Despite all attempts by governments to make things more accessible for the disabled…there really is only so much that can be done when it comes to snow (cross-country ski conversions be damned!)
Don’t get me wrong…Shannon and I have already experienced the problem with rain, getting trapped in a massive downpour while in Disney in the summer of 2011. Despite having a good set of gloves…no wait that’s not true…I had just repurposed some mountain biking gloves to make sure my rubberized push rails didn’t rip my hands to shreds while breaking…but in any case, despite the gloves, we learned quickly that once wet…well to put it bluntly, you are screwed, up a creek without a paddle and shit out of luck all at once. You have no grip at all, even trying to push with the tires instead of the push rails. This is a major issue when alone, but thankfully I had Shan with me. She blew out her back while trying to push me over the uneven ground in that downpour, but we made it back to our room soaked and using hair dryers for means not originally intended. The problem is that in 3 years when I qualify for funding on my next chair, I know I want to shift away from having the rear push handles, and a shorter back…relying exclusively on my own power to maneuver, and reducing the weight of the chair even more. I’ll get into the things I’ve learned that I would do differently another time. Weather though is still a challenge.
I have figured out that with rain you can switch from using the push rails to just using the tires to push in a pinch. It isn’t as efficient, but it does work in the rain.
Then comes the snow. I had really been hoping this winter would be much like the 2011/12 version…but this past weekend we saw a monster storm…and Toronto didn’t get hit anywhere near as hard as the US northeast and the Canadian Maritimes…and I was still house bound for two days. Even today (the Monday after the storm) I felt like I was using my walker to fjord glaciers just to get to the car. Then there comes the snow.
Now I am sure if you think about it, the obvious issues might come to mind. The front wheels (casters) are tiny and easily get caught in ruts in the road, let alone digging into deeper snow. That can be dealt with though by getting half decent at wheeling around backward so the big tires are the ones digging through the snow (tricep work…always wondered what I needed those for!). I will grant you that wheeling backward through a parking lot covered in snow isn’t the safest thing in the world…but you do what you can. Thankfully, there do seem to be a host of people willing to assist (I won’t say take pity) and come to push as needed to get one through the worst of it. It really does help that cynicism with the world when a couple of teens with their jeans halfway down their asses, stop and ask to help…and then pause asking politely about the story about what happened. Always funny when you tell them about the bicycle accident when I was their age and the chagrined look when they admit they never wear helmets.
Unfortunately, there are times you can’t get the assistance…and dammit if I’m stubborn and stupid enough that I am determined to make it through even in those circumstances (though I do obey when told by Shannon, mom and Arthur to stay the hell home and not risk it…Spouse 1, Spouse 2 and mother all get listened to…mostly). So you try to figure out how to push through. I’m still working on the best techniques and am researching bigger tires with studs and better push rails…but this is the problem with all of those…the moment you get over a few centimetres of snow (call it a couple of inches for those American cousins) you get this:
You get snow clogging into the pushrails (that’s the black rail on the right side, with a rubberized coating for better grip), it gets between that and the tire and then despite good treads, fills them and makes them nothing better than ice coated slicks. That doesn’t even cover how the front caster get completely clogged to barely being able to move. (the left side of the pic is my weather proof cushion, as picture was taken from top down). So what do you do?
I’m open to suggestions but keep this in mind…everything with wheelchairs is bloody fracking expensive. One lesson Shan and I learned early: the moment the word “accessible” is added to something, the price more than doubles. So when it comes down to it…you take what you have and make it work. You rely on the assistance of great friends, family and even strangers and when you stare at that football length swath of untouched velvet white snow…you smile and push through to your car. When you get there, huffing and puffing from one hell of a workout that would have taken maybe two minutes to walk, but that took you ten minutes to push through…you look back see that path you just made in that perfect snowfall.
And then you turn and load up your chair and be glad you can drive yourself home no matter the weather.
There has been a lot to learn when it comes to living with the chair. Learning what I can and can’t do. Learning what is worth the effort and what is worth being safe. The surprising side has been…no matter what mother nature throws at us…more often than not its worth the effort to do as Master Yoda would say: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
Hey, we needed to throw a bit of geek in there.
Oh and no Arthur…this doesn’t mean I’m gonna be stupid and try to push through the next time we get another 20 cms of snow. I may be adventurous…but I’m not THAT stupid. (wait for it…you’ll hear Shannon actually snorting at me in the background there)
So when I first thought of getting back to writing, it occurred to me that I got to see a lot of REALLY good premieres of new shows while I was off with my ankle up in the air. One of the biggest surprises did come from the titular Elementary, but more on that in a bit…because to me that is the shock of the season…it’s actually pretty damn good. Unfortunately, with every good show that you find in a new season of TV, you also find one or you love that just don’t get the ratings they deserve…and the early end that never allows the stories to be completed.
So just before I started to write this, I saw the news that a show that not only was one I enjoyed, but one that I got to discuss with my dad as we considered the conspiracies of it….will be cancelled after 13 episodes. Good by Last Resort. We hardly got to know why the hell a looney US President nuked Pakistan for no apparent reason…maybe? Possibly? Dammit I wanted to know!
It’s amazing how many good new shows actually came out this year. Revolution, the JJ Abrahms inspired show about the world after something causes all power, everywhere, to just stop. I’ve only caught a few eps of this one and need to catch up, but so far I’ve been really impressed with how there is so much backstory to build from and grow into. Let alone some decent actors.
Then there was Arrow, the DC comics attempt at created a more “real” supper hero drama based on their Green Arrow character (why the Green was taken from the title is anyone’s guess…the hero’s costume IS green). I have to say this one I have loved from day one after a lot of trepidation about how it would work. Anyone remember the horrible TV version of “The Flash” with he rubber costume from hell? Well trust me Arrow isn’t that. It’s a hero story done in the more realistic Dark Knight Rises style of narrative that seems to work well with DC’s characters (Batman is DC as well if you didn’t know). Trust me, as a comics fan this is one I could go on about for a while…and usually I am having to explain little tidbits to the friends after each week’s show (Shan asks and then puts her hand up to say STOP! when I get a little too detailed). Let’s just say when I saw that mask of Deathstroke in the pilot I was jazzed…I am sure the island that they keep flashing to is one of the bases of the League of Assassins…but I’ll stop there before Shan or Arthur edits the post with a STOP!!! (come on the name is Geek on Wheels). Though one last point…ladies seriously…if the idea of it being a comic book show turns you off…just get a low of the Toronto actor who plays Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Trust me…I suspect you’ll be impressed. Just don’t mind the scars.
So what else is there? Well have you taken a peek at Elementary yet? This was the show I was perhaps the most sceptical about as it seemed to just be another blatant US ripoff of an AMAZING british show Sherlock. If you haven’t seen Sherlock yet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (still one of the best stage names out there) then stop reading this right now and go find the first two seasons of it. There’s only three episodes per season, but each is basically a mini move…and if you don’t know how to find it, then talk to me and I’ll help you. Sherlock is one of the most brilliant shows on TV right now and its a shame that the actors have done so well and got so busy that chances are there will only be one more season. So with its success it wasn’t much of a shock that ABC went quick into production of their own version of a modern day Sherlock Holmes series, except in the more palatable to North American audiences one hour variety. I admit…I expected it to be a disaster, if not an outright copy of the Brit version…with the only real change being that Dr. Watson was now Dr. JOAN Watson.
Well surprise, surprise…Elementary is actually a very different show that really does work on its own merits. I’ve been quite impressed so far. While the Brit version of modern Holmes is described by himself as a “functioning psychopath”, this version….who is still British mind you…just transplanted to the US, is the son of a mystery rich man and recovering drug addict…with an incredible skill at deduction. The relationship with Watson is very different…and we’ve only had the barest hint of standard Holmes characters slowly coming in. Irene Adler was just introduced via old letters recently…and somehow I suspect that there is no hurry to bring Moriarty into the picture…let alone Mycroft Holmes.
This of course doesn’t get into the amazing shows that survived last year and returned with a vengeance. Haven, Grimm, the hilarious Castle, Person of Interest (my dad’s current fave), The Walking Dead (which is decent but sorry that really offbeat and emotional video game is way better than the series), right now is a great time for the hour-long drama with the slight to complete sci-i bent to it. A few years back we all thought that hour long’s were basically dying if it didn’t have CSI in the title. Thankfully that turned out to be a bad prediction.
I know I am missing a few that grabbed my eye, and Arthur was complaining to me about how many shows I’ve caught up on while nursing the foot that he’s never even heard of. Well as I get back into the real world and my more normal routine it will be harder to keep up…but here’s hoping that most of these won’t meet the fate of Last Resort. After all, many of us still hurt over the fate of shows like the beloved Firefly…which meant an end by stupid network hacks who just couldn’t get it.
Browncoats forever! (come on…go geek out for a bit…you’ll be glad you did).
A few years ago, back in the original form of the Darth Obvious website, I wrote this article after a rather remarkable drive home from my parents place in Whitby. When the old obvious site when down I feared it was lost…but went hunting for it with Remembrance Day passing a few days ago (that’s what we call it up here to my American friends). It’s a few days late…and perhaps a bit selfish to want to share it, but this was one of the most moving moments I’d experienced when I did this drive…so I hope you’ll indulge me on a trip down memory lane. Many will have read this back in the day but…I feel that even as our armed forces return from Afghanistan, and thankfully no soldier has taken a trip down this highway in a long time….we must never forget their sacrifice. This still makes me proud to be a Canadian.
This was written circa 2009 or so.
In the past week, Canada has lost four more servicemen in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Last Friday, three of them returned home and took the long road to Toronto as their final trip before being laid to rest. For a long time now, highway 401 has become an impromptu route for regular Canadians to salute these heroes…and on this day I happened to be a half hour ahead of the motorcade…and even being a half hour ahead…it was an incredible experience.
By now you’ve all seen it on TV. A few days after we hear the terrible news of another soldier being lost in the line of duty, they return to Canada and begin the long drive to Toronto from Trenton. Along the way, every overpass on the 401 and Don Valley Parkway has been lined with those who wish to pay their respects. It’s something that we, as Canadians, can feel a special pride about. Regular Canucks, taking their own time to just offer their thanks and sorrow for the loss of these brave people who did what many of us can never dream of doing.
It wasn’t something that began with a national holiday, or special interest movement, or an outcry of protest. It just started quietly, first reported in the Toronto Sun in 2007 as a phenomenon that was slowly growing. Men, women and children lining bridges over the highway to offer their respect. Firefighters, police officers, ambulance personnel, even other soldiers not overseas would stand and offer their salutes for this final sacrifice that was made by the best our country had to offer. The Highway of Heroes was born not of politicians…but of us…Canadians who wanted to show they cared.
No matter what you thought of the “war against terror” this was something universal. Respect and honour for those who have served. Seeing it on TV, with the flags flying, is something that strikes a chord when you realize these people wait hours to just salute our fallen countrymen and women, as the convoys speed by below…barely getting a few seconds to see them before they continue on their somber trip to the coroner’s office in Toronto.
We all have a stake in listening whenever news of another soldier being lost comes across the news. We can’t help but pause and hope that the name we hear isn’t one we know. We hear at the obvious know someone serving over there…so we keep our ears open…and we hope.
Thankfully, our friend is safe as far as we all know and we keep hoping that not only does he stay safe, but that no other soldiers have to take this trip on the highway that has become named after them. But this past Friday I was in Oshawa doing some work for a client on the day that 3 lost young men were going to be taking that trip. I had just finished a quick visit with my family and was heading down Brock St. in Whitby to hit the 401 when for the first time…those sights on the TV became very real.
I had of course been listening to 680 News all day and knew the convoy was coming down around 3pm, but I had expected to be on my way home well before it was coming in.. To my surprise I ended up being only a half hour ahead of it. Coming upon the overpass of Brock St. over the 401 I found a crowd that made me proud to be a Canadian in way I haven’t felt in years. Here were Canadians of all ages, retirees, mom’s and dad’s with their kids, teens who had left school early on a warm March day to stand for a few hours, just waiting. They had signs of respect and flags of all sizes already on display. And they weren’t just standing silently as they waited. They were talking to each other. You could see sorrow in some, pride in others…and yes, I saw all this as I was sitting at a red light waiting to get onto the on ramp for the highway.
It was quite moving and I’ll admit to brushing away a tear of sorrow for the families of those men…but also of pride for what we as Canadians can do for people we’ve never known.
So I thought I knew what to expect as I began to drive home…Brock St. in Whitby is apparently one of the larger gathering points…so I expected just a few people on the other bridges between Whitby and the Don Valley Parkway (which heads south into downtown TO for those who don’t know). Was I in for a surprise. Salem, Harwood, Brock Rd. in Pickering, to Morningside, and perhaps the largest crowd at Victoria Park just before the DVP, there were dozens and dozens of people at each bridge. Emergency personnel already there, waiting for them. And what I couldn’t get over was the number of kids that were waiting as I drove under each bridge.
You have to be proud…not just of those Canadians who take the time. But of the men and women who serve for all of us.
I know full well that I could never be in the military…and not just for the obvious reasons of physical limitations. Can you imagine me trying to fit into a life that is THAT structured? Despite that I have always had the highest respect for those who chose to serve in our armed forces, and I have always thought that despite our military’s small size and lack of equipment…we still have some of the best soldiers in the world.
Seeing how we Canadians respond in the face of the tragedy of losing some of these men and women reminds me of something else.
Despite all our faults…we Canucks are the best of the world as well.
Forgive the indulgence…but take a moment when our latest casualty returns home later this week. He and his family deserve our respect and best wishes.
These years later we haven’t had to endure and respect a trip on that highway in a long time. We hope it stays that way…but we know that as the world turns, at some point our best will need to serve once more. We will honour them when they do and as they continue to now. So a few days late…my thanks and Remembrance to all who served.
Yup, continuing the lobster theme, we were watching another episode of tripe D (that is drive ins, diners and dives for you non-food tv network people).
So this turned out surprising good and the end result was not as “fishy” as i thought it would be. Even though I did use a lot of lobster in it, the other herbs and the volume of potatoes absorbed a lot of it so it was mild and yet had a bite of lobster in each mouthful.
Ingrediants for 6 servings:
1/2 lb of cooked lobster. (i used 6 big claws and knuckles)
12 medium sized potatoes of your choice.
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot (medium size)
1 tablespoons seasalt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
125ml of butter (or 4 tablespoons. I play this one by ear)
125ml of milk
I fresh cooked the lobster which was simply boiling it with 1 tablespoon of seasalt added to the water. for my claws i Cooked for 5 minutes (but you may need more if your going with tails), then shock in ice water to cool down and remove meat from shell. Make sure to cut up or shred the lobster unless you want huge chunks in the potatoes. If you are using pre-cooked canned lobster, just rinse it first. The advantage of cooking your lobster, is that you can cook the potatoes in the same water to give it more flavour.
Once you have your chilled lobster, in a pan melt the butter and then mix in the minced garlic, shallot, seasalt (i like it course), pepper and garlic salt. Add lobster as soon as the garlic and shallot are softened up. This should only be about 1-2 minutes.
Further cook the lobster for 2-3 minutes in the pan making sure to coat all the lobster with the garlic mixture. Once done, turn off heat and let stand until potatoes are done.
Peel the potatoes. For faster cooking time, put in microwave for 5 minutes on high before you boil them. If you have time, a roiling boil is perfect. Once the potatoes are fork tender, you are good to go.
Drain the potatoes and add the milk. Start mashing. Then add lobster mixture. Blend and mash until desired thickness.
I like my mashed potatoes on the chunkier side so i did not cream them to death.
They came out GREAT!
So the other day, I was watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on TV with the boys. Guy visited an italian place that was making lobster ravioli and my youngest David watch intently as the chef cooked lobsters, then made it into a stuffing with cheese and then hand made them into ravioli’s served with a rose sauce.
This was at about 11pm. So immediately after seeing that, David turns to me and says “Daddy, i’m hungry. Can you make those….”
And I thought to myself… yes.. yes I can.
So after discussing it with my wife, we decided to try it on the weekend. She makes noodles for pasta and lasagna from scratch all the time, so she was good with it. I’ve made all kinds of seafood stuffing before, so why not!?
She picked up the ingrediants and we were off to the races. We also decided to make some sausage ravioli’s for those non-seafood eaters in our household.. you know who you are. However, I’m only putting up the recipe for the lobster.
So, first the ingrediant list. This was based on making about 20 large ravioli’s total. A serving would be 4 per person if you actually followed “portion” sizing. Please note that my cooking style is not exact measurements, so when I say a particular measurement, i’m being approximate.
1 lobster. (we bought 1 canned lobster meat from costco which was claws, legs and knuckle meat. No tail but was good for the size. approx 3/4 lb of meat)
Ricotta Cheese – 1 cup
Mozzarella Cheese – 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley (the show used fresh basil but we didn’t have any.)
2 tablespoons EV olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced fine.
1 small onion or shallot (we used shallot) chopped fine.
Cook the lobster if it isn’t already done. You can look up how to do that, its easy. The canned lobster we bought was already cooked so no problem there. If you are using the canned stuff, DO NOT DRAIN THE LOBSTER completely. The water has a lot of flavour.(keep some of the water it was cooked in or came with for later). You can chop up the lobster but let it be somewhat “juicy”.
Take a pan, put olive oil into it. Put the garlic and shallot mixture and let is cook on medium-high for 1 minute or so, or until the onion starts to go translucent. DO NOT LET IT BURN as the garlic will burn easily if not watched and this will ruin the lobster.
Once the onions are clear, throw in lobster meat. Make sure the lobster is chopped fairly fine. I like it a little chunkier but remember it is stuffing, so giant chunk are not going to work.
Add the salt, pepper and parsley.
Mix it gently until the lobster is coated with all the ingrediants. Do not overcook the lobster since it is already cooked you just want it to bind with the ingrediants. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if needed. You don’t want it too salty since the ricotta cheese will have salt in already.
Remove from heat and let cool. You can put it in the fridge for 15m or just let it come down to room temp.
Get a bowl, then mix in the ricotta and mozza. You want to fold it in, and not beat the mixture to death as the lobster by this time will turn into paste if you are too heavy handed.
The mixture should be soft and sticky so you can make small tablespoon size balls. If it is too dry, add a little of the lobster water that it was cooked in, or came with.
Set mixture back into fridge to set.
Now for the pasta. You can buy fresh made pasta from one of the pasta gourmet stores, and you can even buy preformed ravioli and canneloni style shells if you want. We made our own, and this is what it is: (keep in mind, this is for 20 ravioli’s so the portion is greater)
6 cups of unbleached flour
Make a pile of the flower, then with your 2 fingers make a “well” in the middle like a volcano. crack the eggs into that well. Start whisking the eggs grabbing flower with each pass until it is mixed enough to start folding in the flour completely. You’ll have to use your hands at this point. Once you start kneedign the dough you’ll have to adjust with some water (you can use the lobster water again if you want) to make the dough the right consistency. It should be moist and tacky so that it streches when you pull. If it is too dry and cracks, you need to add water.
Then you can either roll it out by hand or get a pasta machine to make the noodles. This is a long drawn out process so i’m not going to detail it here.
Once the pasta sheet is ready, just place a dollop (tablespoon size) on the the pasta and fold it over to close. Once you do that you can cut each portion and seal the ends with a fork.
Here is a great site to show you how to do it. How to Make Ravioli – Allrecipes.com
Then basically you have to boil water and cook the ravioli’s for a couple of minutes until they float.
Fresh pasta cooks really quickly and since the stuffing is already cooked, it doesn’t take long.
Then you can choose your type of sauce to serve with it. We make our own red sauce so for us, it was a no brainer but you can use alfredo or rose or any sauce you like to serve on top. i would not recommend a heavily spiced sauce as the lobster flavour is subtle and can be easily overwhelmed with other dominating flavours. So even though i thought of Bacon.. i decided against it.
1)the ratio of lobster to cheese in the stuffing worked well for making the right texture and flavour but the cheese does hide the lobster somewhat. I found the lobster taste to be milder than expected but enough to taste it in every bite. In the future instead of 33% lobster, 33% mozza, 33% ricotta, I’d probably do 50% lobster and 25-25 for the cheese. Just to get a little more lobster flavour into it.
2)We chose to do it ravioli style which when making by hand takes a long time. The stuffing and making the noodles was easy, the actual stuffing, cutting, sealing of the ravioli took a while. You could do this with canneloni which would be a little faster. I’m sure with practice, I’ll get better. We also had a timing issue between making our noodles and actually using them, so i would recommend making the stuffing and having it ready long before you actually make the pasta. you want to be able to make the ravioli’s and ideally cook them within a few minutes of each other. If you let the pasta sit, it starts to dry out and then you are in trouble.
3)because everything was fresh made, the volume of pasta is misleading. I ate 6 of them before I realized I was stuffed to the gills! SO BEWARE!