GPS metadata in iPhone photos

I'm usually faaaar up on the "share everything with everyone" scale, but this actually surprised even me, and I should've known this already. I don't think the behaviour is wrong, but it's definitely something to be aware of. I'm talking about the location data in EXIF tags in photos taken with an iPhone 3G/3GS.

I took the following photo at Bridgehead last weekend. Turns out if you email that photo to anyone from the phone and open it up, there's location metadata included in the file:

OSX even includes a handy little "Locate" button in the inspector. Clicking it opens Google Maps in your default browser, which locates the photo pretty damn near where I actually took it:

Spookily accurate.

The potential usefulness of this is terrific and outweighs the downsides (think "view pictures posted in last 2 hours, taken near this fire"... crowdsourcing the news), but it's definitely worth keeping in mind from a privacy point of view.


Les Grillades (Ottawa)

Today's food post is a bit weird: I'm giving a big thumbs up to a restaurant without being able to write much about what I had there, for the simple reason that I'm talking about Les Grillades [85 Holland ave], and they serve Lebanese food, which I'm not very acquainted with. So... here's my fantastically uninformed post about a Lebanese brunch.

I went in for Sunday brunch with no idea what to expect, and let me tell you, this isn't a typical Ottawa greasy shawarma shack! This is a real restaurant.

Awesome Turkish Coffee
We started off with a bit of turkish coffee.

A plate of fresh veggies awaited us as we sat down. Incredulous, I inquired of one of my Lebanese companions: "So you just eat... the onions... raw? Really?" I'm certainly not known for turning away from raw foods, so I dove in carefully with some green onion (verdict: not bad, but apologies for my breath afterwards):

Then the brunch dishes started arriving. We didn't actually order anything specific, just "brunch". I was introduced to Labneh, a sort of strained yogurt (delicious!):

Some meat and cooked cheese:

And what was probably the best dish we tasted: this was made from fava beans, it was extremely tasty, and I was told the name (possibly 'Foul'), but it was unfamiliar and escapes me now:

All in all, loved it, and at around 100$ for a table of 6, quite reasonable.


Tourtière HOWTO

Guests and co-workers have asked me to share the recipe for tourtière (meat pie) and for pie crust. I'm hoping this illustrated HOWTO can serve as the reference I point them to.

Pie Crust

These instructions are for 1 crust. You need 2 (top + bottom) per tourtière, so we'll make 4 of these. I make them individually in the food processor. I use the same kind of crust for dessert pies as well, this works for everything.

1.25 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 small stick of butter, chilled (~110 grams)
~1/8th cup of ice water (as required)

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the food processor.

Cut your chilled stick of butter into little pieces.

Start the food processor and quickly throw in about one piece of butter per second. This should take about 10 seconds and break up the butter into tiny clumps. When you're finished, it should look like this:

Add 1/8th cup ice water (or a little more, as required) in a very slow thin trickle while running the processor. The dough will rapidly start clumping up and after about 20-30s will form a single ball. Don't use too much water! It shouldn't stick to your fingers, it should stay in ball shape when handled.

Press it lightly onto a counter, then wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes. When you take it out of the fridge, let it stand for 5-10 minutes so it softens and is easier to work with.


(makes two)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 white potato
2 cloves of garlic
2 lbs ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup beef broth
spices (basil, nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaf, cloves)

Dice your potato. Cook it in boiling water with a bit of salt for 10 minutes (until tender), then drain and reserve.

Chop up the onion and mince the garlic.

In a large skillet or casserole, cook the onion and garlic in a bit of vegetable oil until tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the pork and beef. Let it cook on high heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some salt and pepper, the spices, and the beef broth. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure all the meat cooks evenly and the beef gets mixed well with the pork. It looks like this when you just start cooking:

After 30 minutes, take the meat off the heat and let it cool down. Go back to your potatoes and mash them up:

Then combine them with the meat

Roll the Crusts

While your meat mixture continues to cool, it's time to prepare the crusts. Flour your work surface and plop down the first ball of dough. I like this cutting board, it has a gauge to help with shaping.

Now roll it out so it's bigger than your pie tin. [Note: never buy a teflon rolling pin like this one, it's junk. Get a proper wooden one.]

Place it in your pan and run a knife gently around the edge to cut off the overflow.

Spoon in your meat mixture into both bottom crusts. Brush some beaten egg onto the edges to help seal the top crust.

Place the top crust on top, and brush the whole surface with some more beaten egg. Use a fork to texture the edges and seal both crusts shut together.

Bake at 375F for about 60 minutes.

Done! Make this 1-2 days before you're ready to eat, it's better after a day or two.