Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: What’s in your fridge?

With Grateful Greg Reamsbottom, who is still paying attention



I knew it would be a good session of "What's in your fridge" because when I called to set up the interview with Greg Reamsbottom he promised he wouldn't go out and buy a whole bunch of food to make himself look smart.

Greg is better known as Grateful Greg, crucial half of The Hairfarmers, the perennially favourite band that delivers Whistler's soundtrack and annually shaves its collective beards as a charity fundraiser. Greg is also lead singer for A Whole Lotta Led, and cooker of most breakfasts and dinners in the Reamsbottom household, when he's not out playing a gig, which can range beyond the Whistler scene to the U.K. or a private party at the Vancouver Club.

I have to admit I was a little surprised to find this rocker loved cooking, so Greg explains: "I think everybody should know how to cook. But lots of guys don't seem to know how to do anything except open a can of soup or make Kraft dinner.

"I spent lots of years living as a bachelor with a bunch of other guys, and if you wanted to eat, you had to learn how to cook. As life goes by, you either pay attention or you don't, and I always paid attention in the kitchen. So-o-o-o..."

So off we go through Greg and his wife Kara's year-old stainless steel Jenn-Air in their townhouse in Pemberton, with the open-door alarm beeping only sporadically. Since both of them cook - Kara is the deli lunch chef and Greg the aforementioned breakfast/dinner cook - what we find is the result of shared grocery shopping at Nesters Market or Pemberton Valley Supermarket.

And, no, we aren't going to find anything that makes beards grow fast. Nor will we find many things for snacking when he gets home from a gig at 2 a.m., because - another surprise - he doesn't like to do that.

What we do find, though, is a jar of Bick's baby dill pickles, with garlic, followed by a jar of Prince Edward Island blackberry/currant jam, which definitely must be a gift because Greg doesn't know where the hell it came from, followed by mango chutney, a little container of 100 per cent natural organic almond butter, and a jar of some kind of dark, delicious sauce from Japan, type unknown because the entire label is in Japanese. (It was given to Kara by a guest from Japan who regularly stays at Wildwood Lodge, where she's the front desk manager.)

There are also four bottles of Nestlé's flavoured water someone left behind in the hotel, tofu for miso soup and an assortment of condiments and sauces, including cocktail sauce left over from a Monday night dinner party, plus homemade marmalade, strawberry jam and chutney all from their pals on Vancouver Island - just a few of the friends from Maui to Muskoka who visit. (The jam makers haven't seen their new Pemberton place yet because Greg and Kara only moved in two months ago after getting married and determining that all the affordable housing in Whistler was totally unsuitable since none of it includes garages, something vital for a guy like Greg who loves to work on his vehicles.)

From the mix so far, we can tell that Greg and Kara are your basic eclectic eaters. So do they have any rules about the food they buy?

"You try to shop for fresh ingredients, of course, and if you're going to buy canned or preserved stuff, you try to go for organic if you can," he says. "Just try to keep it as healthy as you can without chewing on wheat grass all day long."


Moving on down the shelves, we find, among other things, Activia yogurt; ball-park mustard and green hot dog relish; a giant bottle of Worcestershire sauce; Maui rib sauce; sesame ginger salad dressing; organic pure lime juice Greg likes to use in Thai cooking (he does a lot); maple syrup for pancakes; Miracle Whip and mayonnaise for those super lunch sandwiches; and some Philly cream cheese for dips, not cheesecake - not many desserts are made in this house.

Then there's some baba ganoush, Dijon mustard, free-range eggs and a tin of MJB coffee for dinner guests, who usually stay overnight. As for Greg and Kara, they drink coffee maybe twice a year. "I vibrate if I drink it. I'm awake enough already!" he says.

Next comes an unexpected highlight: a Tupperware container full of barbecued moose meat left over from Monday's dinner party. Greg went moose hunting in Vanderhoof six days after their wedding and got a huge one.

Never having killed and butchered a moose in the field, I'm curious about it. Here's the best way, according to Greg: After taking the guts out right where you shoot him, you take him back to camp, hang him, skin him, cut off his head and his legs below the knee joints. You take him into the butcher shop skinned, wiped down, cleaned and gutted, basically all in one piece, et voilà, "a "shit-load of moose meat."

As for the guts and what-nots, the site will be licked clean by resident wildlife. As for barbecuing moose meat once you get home, the trick is to pull it off before you think it's done. And don't marinate it, because it absorbs the flavours too much.

Below the moose meat, we have the veggie drawers replete with those ubiquitous Earthbound Farm salad greens plus tomatoes, onions, peppers, half a lemon, fresh dill, organic carrots, celery and mushrooms. Below that is the deli drawer with cheese and ham for sandwiches.

On the fridge door are assorted "door items" such as homemade vinaigrette, ketchup, satay sauce, sesame oil, sweet chili Thai sauce, extra virgin olive oil a friend brought from Santa Cruz, habanero hot sauce, butter, capers, grated Parmesan, milk and juice.

And topping it all off, or anchoring it all down, depending on your perspective, is a lovely bottle of champagne, one of several received as wedding gifts. They keep a bottle chilled, just in case...

And with Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's going to be put to good use. So guys, ahem, pay attention: Greg is going to serve it with one of Kara's favourite meals that he will cook for her - a pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto, grilled on the bar-b with a raspberry demi-glaze and served with asparagus and Pemberton potatoes. How sweet it is...

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer whose husband also loves to cook, thank goodness.