Samantha’s Guest Post – Interview with Mia Stainsby

by samantha on June 26, 2008

Over a nice meal at Sakura Bistro the other night, gigi and I mulled over the idea of interviewing Mia Stainsby of the Vancouver Sun to get her thoughts on being a Restaurant Critic and Food Writer over the years.  We figured that she must have had many interesting experiences and of course, share our love for ho yummy food!  She graciously agreed to answer some questions for us, and a couple of them made me chuckle.  I really enjoy Mia Stainsby’s articles in the Vancouver Sun and always look out for them. See my Q&A with her:

Q. During Christmas you wrote a great article about must-haves in your kitchen. Any new and exciting gadgets or items you’ve stumbled upon since?
A. Ice shaver, from Fujiya…very simple, inexpensive device. You freeze a block of juice or whatever, in the plastic container; when frozen, place it in the shaver and whirl the handle. It makes a soft, fluffy, frozen treat that can be low-cal if it’s say, fruit juice, and it satisfies my evening cravings for ‘just something’. At Gastropod, the chef uses it on a oysters on half shell dish.

Q. Can you tell us about your favourite dining experience and what made it so special?
A. Hmmmm. Maybe last summer, a dinner at Le Guirlande et Julie under the arches of Place des Vosges in Paris. A favourite spot, a beautiful night, made more intense because it was our last evening in the city. That’s a fave for now, anyway.

Q. When dining at restaurants, we sometimes take photos of our meals.  This seems to bring on suspicions that we are reviewers and can occasionally result in “different” service.  We know that the Vancouver Sun conducts interviews after the fact to protect anonymity, but do you have a memorable experience being recognized in a restaurant? If so, how did this affect your meal?
A. One that stands out from long ago… they didn’t know who I was, only that I was writing notes under the table. From then on, I was escorted to washroom and watched nervously and then escorted out to street as I got up to leave. I certainly didn’t feel like an ordinary diner, let’s say.

Q. What’s your favourite dish you like to cook at home?
A. Right now, it’s paparadelle pasta with my little machine. I hang the noodles to dry everywhere, on backs of chairs, on railings. I liked it with beef bourguignon in the cold weather. I think I’ll be moving on to grilled pizzas very shortly, though. I guess, too, I was into Caesar salads recently because my husband ever-so-cautiously asked if we could stop having Caesar salads the other day. I made up a huge swak of dressing with a Rebar recipe, using roasted garlic and it hadda be used.

Q. Can you tell us about the first time you recognized the impact of your reviews on a restaurant or chef?
A.
When a friend of an owner threatened to break my knees. But I still say it’s not my (or anyone’s reviews) that make or break restaurants — they do that on their very own.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Mia!  I don’t know about you readers out there, but I am curious about this ice shaver…

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