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Inside the Sugar Shack with the wild chef

MARTIN PICARD’S

oDE TO MAPLE SYRUP Who’s Afraid of Raw Milk? The debate continues…

Fishing for Dinner Jacob Richler in Panama

NEW COLUMNS! + Fish & Seafood + Veg & Vegan

where to eat RIGHT NOW!

Plus! Guinea Fowl + Hoppy Beer + Jamie Kennedy + Antarctic Gourmet

From the editor I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like maple FROM THE EDITOR syrup. Even non-deserters love the intense sweetness, the earthiness, the goo—it’s sensual, I’ve been lucky of late. I’ve had three meals this irresistible stuff. While maple syrup may not past month that put a smile on my face. The first be uniquely Canadian, we do seem to lay claim was the signature item at The Burger’s Priest in to the stuff as part of our identity. Certainly, Leslieville.chef The Martin second Picard was a Peking duckway. rein-His Montreal feels that vented at a pre-opening dinner at Lee Lounge, new book, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack is Susur Lee’son new on theasold Madeline’s described histake website being “aboutspace. the The third was at Sneaky Dee’s, where a plate of encounter between a renown chef and a rare bar-style chicken wings plain made me happy. and natural sugar.â€? It’sjust a journey of discovery, Where there’s in food,beautiful there’s always with recipes and joy startlingly photographs and illustrations. more aboutinPicard and excellence. And it Read feels like a surge the food his book onnow, p. 24. And maple syrupand season scene right a lot of with energy and ideas, gearing up, it’s time to celebrate special great places to eat, shop, cook, etc.this CityBites is elixir at to festivals and dinners, at home or out pleased once again partner with the Salut and we need now is third a unique Wineabout. + Food(All Festival, now in its year maple celesyrup “cheers.â€? Any ideas?) brating excellence and bringing innovative food In this issue, we welcome two new columnists. Terroir, an incredible hospitality industry conKait Fowlie kicks off her Living on the Veg column ference that’s happening the day this magazine devoted to vegetarian and vegan topics (p. 16). goes to print, so we’ll have to tell you about it Look for her regular posts on our Tumblr feed. 2011, and just keeps growing. Dan Donovan, co-proprietor of Hooked, will Events like these bring the city’s food scene deliver the straight goods on the slippery issues its vital focus,seafood on quality, innovation, ideasout and surrounding sustainability; check his just pure joy. Which reminds me of my fourth Fishmongering column on p. 15. He’s taking your smile-inspiring meal—an east-meets-west feast questions too, so please send them to info@ at Senses in the SoHo Patrick Lin, citybites.ca. Watch forMetropolitan. our website, coming soon! the man’s sublime. Dick Snyder, Editor • dick@citybites.ca $ICK3NYDER %DITORsDICK CITYBITESCA @citybites

city bites magazine citybitestoronto

No. 41

Work in progress: pineapple upside-down cake (p. 25).

Features

contents

18 Raw Emotion As the debate over raw milk continues, Sarah Hood offers some perspective 22 Cookbook Cookoff A dinner party with Greg Bolton reveals insights into recent cookbooks, quality ingredients and just how much maple syrup is enough 24 Chef Q&A

Au Pied de Cochon’s Martin Picard talks sex and maple syrup

26 Fishing for Dinner Jacob Richler travels to Panama and discovers ex-pat Features >>the Sugar and Toronto chefs along way—and they haveSpice a secret! 16

Spice World Exotic avours abound at Toronto’s top spice shops.

17

Sweet Young Things Meet Toronto’s rising pastry chefs.

Bites 18Regular Stuff The coolest, funkiest, most beautiful salt and pepper vessels.

Editor Dick Snyder/dick@citybites.ca Art Director Craig Sinclair/craigdesign@hurontel.on.ca Editor Dick Snyder/dick@citybites.ca Associate Editor Signe Langford Art Director Craig Sinclair/craigdesign@hurontel.on.ca Wine Editor John Szabo Editorial Assistant Kait Fowlie Director of Vinous Affairs Zoltan Szabo Wine Editor John Szabo

Starters The Artisanal star alignsalt at Ursa. 13 Urban Farmer 205 The Joy of Salt invades Toronto.

Director of Vinous Affairs Zoltan Greg Szabo Contributors Stephen Beaumont, Clow, Sara d’Amato,

7 Out&AboutBites Bar Neon lights up Regular Bloor and Lansdowne.

Tracey Edelist, Konrad Ejbich, Maia Filar, Arlene Hazzan Green, Contributors Stephen Beaumont, Greg Bolton, Andrew Brudz, Marc Green, Tracy Howard, Heather Li, Joy McCarthy, Mary Luz Pamela Cuthbert, Dan Donovan, Konrad Ejbich, Kait Fowlie, Mejia, Stephen Temkin, Julie C. Trubkin Arlene Hazzan Green, Sarah B. Hood, Kate More, Zoltan Szabo, Photography Jeff Coulson, Signe Langford, Julie C. Trubkin Stephen Temkin Publisher Paul Alsop/paulalsop@idmg.ca Photography and illustration Martin Beaulieu, George Fisher, Sr. Account Manager Wendy Lyall Gardner/wendy@citybites.ca Ann Gagno, John Gundy, Edward Pond, Dick Snyder Account Manager Alexander McCarthy/alecmccarthy@live.ca

Publisher Paul Alsop/paul@citybites.ca Subscriptions are $25 per year.

Sr. Account Manager Wendy Lyall Gardner/wendy@citybites.ca Email info@citybites.ca or visit www.citybites.ca Account Manager Alexander McCarthy/alecmccarthy@live.ca Advertising Inquiries sales@citybites.ca Account Manager John Walker/johnmwalker@rogers.com City Bites Media Inc., 24 Dalhousie St. Suite 200, photo:JEFF edward pond PHOTO: COULSON

contents Early Spring 2012

Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5, 647-827-1705. City Bites is published Email info@citybites.ca or visit www.citybites.ca six times a year by City Bites Media Inc., a division of IDMG Inc. Advertising Inquiries sales@citybites.ca City Bites Media Inc., 26 Dalhousie St. Suite 200, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5, IDMG Management

647-827-1705. City Bites

Paul Alsop, Donald G. House

is published six times a year by City Bites

IDMG Partner

Media Inc.

Dick Snyder

Raise your bed.

216 Chicken Wings Rating Toronto’s joints (and Crumbs Restaurant openings top wing14 Head tosome Headnot-so-top). The original

5

and closings.

Starters A new ďŹ sh shop; Susur

8abroad; Newsbites Amsterdam Spring Le Creuset goes green.

Bock; Cheese Boutique’s Chef Fest. Crumbs Hot spots, new spots, dead spots. 9 Purveyors The fresh benefits 7 Just of Opened Red Fife Eating flour. out tonight? Try one of these two new restaurants. 10 The Gourmudgeon Go Guinea 8 TheFowl Gourmudgeon or go home.For the love of schnitzel. 11 Buying Guide Chickens 9 Pantry A vision of ginger, with flavour. in ales and beers. 12 Dining Out Windows brings 10 Foreign Big JamieCorrespondence Kennedy to Niagara three countries. sandwiches (and Tonyfrom Aspler).

6

11

The Urban Farmer Tricking nature into giving you salad.

12

natural wines.

15 Fishmongering New! Hooked’s Dan Fresh Sugaring off Donovan with our takes your sweet seafood questions. favourite viscous liquid.

16 Living on’em theand Veg New! 13 Books Read eat! 14 15 23

Kait Fowlie talks veg and vegan. Reality Check Wondering where the 31 goodness Szabo onwent. Wine Perspectives on taste with John Szabo. In store Superior olive oil and easy-make 32 The Ej risotto. Konrad Ejbich’s case for dismantling the KGBO. Libations Stephen Beaumont proff ers his porter picks. Beaumont on 33 Libations Stephen

hoppy craft brews. 24 The Ej Where’s the “O�, wonders Konrad Ejbich, in LCBO. 34 One Last Bite A new book explores eating the Antarctic. 25 Szabo on Wine JohninSzabo gets his sweet on.

26

One Last Bite A spoonful of sugar.

Cover: Martin Beaulieu/avidmonkeys.com Martin Picard at Sugar Shack Au Pied deCover Cochon. photo by Jeff Coulson Spring EarlyEarly Spring 2012 2012 3

3

Viva Espa単a!

!

Starting May 1, savour our NEW Spanish-inspired menu.

Watch FRANK Sous Chef Elizabeth Rivasplata, competitor on the new season of Top Chef Canada on Food Network.

FOOD NETWORK is a trademark of Television Food Network G.P.; used with permission.

Book your reservation today 416 979 6688 www.ago.net/frank 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto

the starters The CityBites Team Jacob Richler An award-winning journalist and magazine writer, Jacob Richler has contributed regularly to GQ, Departures, Flare, Zoomer, Financial Post magazine, Toronto Life and enRoute, amongst many others. He wrote a regular food column for Saturday Night magazine and then the National Post, where he was also the restaurant critic for five years. He now writes a food column for Maclean’s. He has written two cookbooks with Mark McEwan,

Ursa’s majors: Jacob (third from left) and Lucas (far right).

The stars align By Dick Snyder

Nutrition, balance and superb taste at Ursa “Come in, have a drink, great to see you.” That’s Lucas Sharkey Pearce speaking, a welcome lilt on a cold Friday eve. Ursa’s just opened on Queen West, and they serve what I’m looking for: wild foraged mushroom soup expressed as an intense mahogany-coloured reduction, bitter sweet with Asian nuances. Lucas and brother/chef Jacob have owned Two Brothers Catering since 2006, designing performance nutrition for pro basketball players. They’ve snagged the old Bar One spot on Queen West and remodeled it as a celestial oasis: tiny globes dot the dark room, and walls are impossibly black, so all else shines. As does the food, cleanly crafted, every entity made in-house, from vinegar to pro-biotic cultured butter. The menu changes, but expect beautiful things like white-tail deer tartare. Ursa Vancouver import Clayton Cooper commands the bar and wine 924 Queen St. W. list, and mixes sublime and gimmick-free cocktails, with banter 416-536-8963 ursa-restaurant.com that makes you feel good. Word is getting out, so call now.

and in September, Penguin will publish his book on Canadian cuisine, My Canada Includes Foie Gras. He documents a recent adventure in Panama with the article Fishing for Dinner on p. 26. Greg Bolton No stranger to CityBites, Greg Bolton interviewed Rush frontman Geddy Lee for the inaugural issue in 2005. In a former life, he was co-owner of Pantry, a specialty food store in Toronto’s west end. Instead of selling food, he now just eats it, cooks it, and thinks about it morning, noon and night. He lives in Toronto with his two young sons and a crap-ton of arcane specialty oils and crazy vinegars and stuff, which he applied to the debut of Cookbook Cookoff feature on p. 22.

photos: Ann Gagno

Do Stay in Touch!

Salad of black kale, greens, roasted apple.

Bar manager Clayton Cooper.

Send email to info@citybites.ca or snail mail (and cool stuff) to CityBites, 24-26 Dalhousie St., Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5. Letters will be considered for print, and may be edited for accuracy and space. Early Spring 2012

5

crumbs

By Kait Fowlie

... Much-loved kitchenware dealer The Cooks Place (501 Danforth Ave. thecooksplace.com) has closed its doors after a marathon blow-out sale-a-thon. Owner and new grandma Barb Ackerman wishes patrons love, laughter, and great meals

... George Karpouzis of Stouffville’s

The Coolest Little Ice Cream Shop opens The Hot ’n Dog (216 Close Ave., 647-955-0233), where toppings range from salsa and hickory sticks

Ritz-Carlton Hotel partners with Paul Boehmer on the project, and mixes up a varied selection of artisanal cocktails served alongside a menu of comfort food

... The Glastone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W.,

416-531-4635, gladstonehotel.com) welcomes new executive chef Michael Smith previously of ROM’s C5. Since the beginning of the month, Smith has been creating new menus with food and beverage

New joints for biting and drinking to pineapple and pizza sauce ... Playful Grounds (605 College St., 416645-0484, playfulgrounds.com) moves into the former home of I Feel Like Crepe. Owners Davina Cheung-Brown and Tera Goldblatt serve kid- and adult-friendly cafe-style eats, including hot chocolate in sippie cups and wine by the glass

... West coast restaurateurs Beth

director Andrea Young

... Opening in a former art gallery next door

to the Keriwa Cafe, Maialino Enoteca Italiana (1688 Queen St. W., 416-551-5251, maialinoto.com) serves modern Sicilian cuisine

...

Gusto 101 (101 Portland St., 416-504-9669, gusto101.com) opens with a menu of casual southern Italian fare designed by owner Janet

Davyduke and Tom Earl open The Westerly (413 Roncesvalles Ave.,

Zuccarini of Trattoria Nervosa and crafted by Daneil Mezzolo,

416-551-6660, thewesterlyrestaurant.com) where River once stood.

previously of Hockley Valley Resort. The house wine is made Vintage

Head chef Geoff Kitt, formerly of The Swan, serves classic, French-

One and sells for $1/ounce

inspired pastas and desserts

... Roncesvalles bakery Granowska’s

(175 Roncesvalles Ave., granoswkasbakery.com) closed its doors in January after 40 years in business

... With the help of designer

Jason Stroud, the former Galaxy Donuts space is now Yours Truly

... Stock (325 Bay St., 416-637-5550,

stockrestaurant.com) opens on the 31st floor of the new Trump International Tower, with 24-foot ceilings, a 1000-bottle wine wall, and a chocolate lab. Chef Todd Clarmo, of Oliver and Bonacini and Canoe, creates Mediterranean inspired dishes. CityBites columnist

... A&W celebrates

(229 Ossington Ave., 416-533-2243, yours-truly.ca). Chef Jeff Claudio,

John Szabo runs the extensive wine program

formerly of Per Se in New York and Scarpetta in Toronto, steps out of

the opening of its 750th restaurant in Canada with an opening at

the kitchen to personally serve seasonal, veg-friendly plates

... Romolo

Salvati and Massimo Di Lascio of Leslieville’s Queen Margherita set

Toronto Pearson International Airport

... Temporary pop up Come

and Get It opens (170 Spadina Ave.), serving sandwiches, salads and

up shop in the shuttered Back Alley

poutine Tuesday through Saturday. Owner Jon Polubiec has no idea

Woodfire BBQ and Grill with Pizzeria

when he has to move out to allow condo construction to commence,

Via Mercanti (188 Augusta Ave.,

so get Twitter updates @ComeAndGetIt416

style pizza place does homemade pastas, coffee and tiramisu

... Homemade dessert

dealer Demitris (400 Danforth Ave., 416-778-6654) closed earlier this

647-343-6647). The laid back Neapolitan-

winter for renovations

... The

... Neil Da Costa and Victor Brum breathe

new life into the former Negroni space with Bruda (492 College St.,

three sisters behind Embujo Flamenco

416-927-0222, brudarestaurant.com), offering European fare made

open Pachuco (99 Danforth Ave.,

with local ingredients. Brum, who is also a sommelier, offers tutored

... Sandra Cassaro and David

416-466-8006, pachuco.ca) serving

... Lucid

wine tastings on Sunday nights

authentic modern Mexican

Beddia turn former Slavic Pentecostal Parish into Church Aperitivo

Cocktail and Kitchen (571 Queen St. W.,

Bar (1090 Queen St. W., 416-537-1090), serving Chef Fabio Sacca’s

416-361-6154, lucidck.com) inhabits the home of the short-lived Bohemian Gastropub. Moses McIntee of Nota Bene, Ame, The Spoke Club and

traditional Italian sharing plates and a range of specialty cocktails. Lucid’s Robert Richardson and Moses McIntee. Now open!

In the style of Italy’s aperitivo, complimentary appetizers are offered with any beverage between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Kait Fowlie is a food writer living in Toronto.

Celebrating 15 Years of Casual Fine Dining. The Monkey Bar remains North Toronto’s favourite neighbourhood bistro and destination dining spot.

3 3 5 3 Yo n g e S t . To r o n t o • 4 1 6 . 4 8 6 . 2 2 8 8 • t h e m o n k e y b a r. c a 6

CityBites

out & about

By Andrew Brudz

Bar Neon lights it up A vibrant new watering hole shines at Bloor and Lansdowne The Story Last summer, Niki Tsourounakis opened Cafe Neon near Lansdowne and Bloor, never expecting to open its sister location, Bar Neon, so soon after. Until, that is, a building she owns at Bloor and Brock was vacated by former vegetarian resto Calico in 2010. After a few failed attempts to rent the space—which she may have sabotaged by pointing out all the building’s flaws—Tsourounakis kept the space for herself. In December 2011, Bar Neon joined Ortolan, Bloordale Pantry and Holy Oak in rejuvenating the strip.

photo: John Gundy

The Space After working at the café during the day, Tsourounakis would spend nights tearing down walls and ripping up floors. A few demolition mishaps revealed a stunning putty-hued brick wall and an old tin ceiling, both of which have been beautifully restored. On the west wall is a vibrant, layered screen-printed mural over vintage wallpaper by Toronto artist and musician, Jeff Garcia, aka Mangopeeler. Other tongue-in-cheek details include bathroom floors that are covered in about 90,000 (mostly hand-laid) pennies embedded in epoxy, and a drinking fountain, from Addison’s Antique Plumbing Fixtures.

At bar: Niki Tsourounakis presiding.

Bar Neon hour drink and a snack, while others, in it for the long haul, revel into the wee hours.

The Menu

Chef Ivan Loubier-Cote, formerly of Taboo Resort in Gravenhurst and the midtown French restaurant Didier, works The Scene Currently host to a number his magic in a kitchen frugally equipped with of monthlies, the plan is to cultivate a dedicated two toaster ovens and a deep fryer. He’s created following with a house DJ on weekends catera seasonal menu with upscale, accessible bar ing to a cross section of the neighbourhood’s food, including oysters with sherry mignonette, eclectic residents. Some come for a daily happy marinated mini1croque monsieurs, CityBites_Fall2011_1:CityBites 10/3/11 3:14sardines, PM Page

CELEBRATING OUR

1226 Bloor St. W.

and a variety of tostas 647-748-6366 twitter: @Bar_Neon (mini Spanish-style pizzas). Into the weekend’s late night hours, Loubier-Cote serves up $2 mixed plates. Be sure to try one of his handmade truffles. This summer, Tsourounakis intends to use the back patio for cookouts and pork roasts. Also for sale: Ivan’s homemade baguettes, imported fleur de sel, and Vlatos Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the family’s olive grove in Crete. CB

28

TH

ANNIVERSARY! Ontario’s 1st Certified Organic Retailer! Specializing in organically grown, Non-GMO and environmentally safe products. NEW COOKING CLASSES • FREE NUTRITIONAL STORE TOURS • FREE EVENING LECTURES

Natural Food Market 416.466.2129

info@thebigcarrot.ca www.thebigcarrot.ca

Wholistic Dispensary 416.466.8432

dispensary@thebigcarrot.ca

Organic Juice Bar 348 Danforth Avenue 1 block west of Chester subway Mon-Fri 9-9 • Sat 9-8 • Sun 11-6 Early Spring 2012

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newsbites

Organically Grown, Close to Home “My cooking focuses a lot on the farm-to-table movement and that is why I choose Yorkshire Valley Farms. Their products are hormone & antibioticfree which makes me confident in my decision when I select their chicken.”

Chef Rodney Bowers Chicken Curry Recipe by Chef Rodney Bowers 5 garlic cloves 2 shallots, peeled 2 smashed bulbs of lemongrass 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled 3 fresh Thai chilies 2 tsp turmeric powder 4 cardamom seeds pods, toasted 4 fresh curry leaves 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped ½ cup clarified butter or ghee 2 large onions, thinly sliced 1 cinnamon stick

By Kait Fowlie

Back in Bock Designed to tide the monks over during the 40 day fast of Lent, bock beers are rich and full-bodied. With spring upon us, Amsterdam is bringing back its Spring Bock, which sold out 6,000 litres last year in just a couple of weeks. Notes of citrus, cedar and dried apple give Amsterdam’s bock a refreshing kick, and three types of imported malts impart a deep mahogany colour. The style ages well in the cellar, so stock up so you can have the taste of spring all year. At LCBO, Amsterdam retail store, and on tap at select bars.

1 kg Yorkshire Valley Farms chicken legs (bone-in, skins removed) 1 Tbsp organic honey 2 Tbsp soy sauce or 1 tsp fish sauce 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup chicken stock 1 cup fresh blanched or frozen organic peas 2 cups of fresh spinach ½ cup Greek yogurt 4 Tbsp chopped cilantro Method: • Puree the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger, chilies, turmeric, cardamom and curry leaves in a blender. Add the tomatoes and pulse to form a paste. • On medium heat in a large skillet add the clarified butter (or ghee) and curry paste; cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the mixture starts to perfume and caramelize. • Add the onion and cinnamon stick; cook until transparent and tender, about 5 minutes. • Add the chicken legs and sauté until slightly golden. • Add the honey, soy sauce, coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce the heat, cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 30-40 minutes, stir occasionally. • Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the peas and spinach and simmer for another 2 minutes. • Stir in the yogurt and the cilantro. Return chicken to curry and serve immediately over rice. Serves 4-6 AVAI L AB LE AT:

yorkshirevalley.com

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CityBites

Amsterdam Spring Bock, $3.95/500mL.

Chef Fest at Cheese Boutique At the Cheese Boutique (45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292, cheeseboutique.com), every weekend in May is a celebration of great food. Their ninth annual May Festival of Chefs is a Toronto tradition in which select local chefs come together to cook with Cheese Boutique ingredients in an interactive environment, and have their dishes paired with Ontario wine. Customers can watch the action, sample dishes, and banter with chefs and staff. It’s casual—and free. “We are thrilled about our lineup, nine of the top young chefs in the city doing what they do best, said Cheese Boutique co-owner Afrim Pristine. “The enthusiasm from all chefs involved makes this event more and more popular.” The schedule can be viewed online.

purveyors

By Pamela Cuthbert

All Wheat, No Chaff From Hastings County comes Red Fife flours that’s fit for the Royals The Red Fife flour from CIPM Farm certainly certainly does get around. The certifiedorganic wheat, grown and milled on the Hastings County property owned and run by first-generation farmer Patricia Hastings, has been served to Prince Charles in Toronto, the Queen at Rideau Hall, the Royal newlyweds this past summer, athletes at the Vancouver Olympics, fans who telephone in long-distance orders and, most of all, to hundreds of diners from Ottawa to Guelph and many points in between. For a local sample, Evelyn’s Crackers act as a sort of canvass for the various rich, whole grains supplied by CIPM: Red Fife for the Slightly Seedy Cracker, Oatcakes, Rose Cardamom Shortbread and Lavender Shortbread; Rye in the Currant in the Rye Cracker; Spelt for the Dal ones; Buckwheat for the Saw Buck Digestives and Red Fife Wheat Bran for Muesli. Edmund Rek, who co-owns the cracker company with his wife and partner Dawn Woodward, describes their product as “a way to wrap your head around the localfoods movement.” Just as remarkable as the product is the tale of how CIPM came to be. Hastings is a mother of four grown children, a musician by profession, the church organist—and “never had given a moment’s thought to being a farmer.” Yet evidently the stars were aligned. Her daughter’s friend, Dirk Alterhoffer, a young student visiting from Germany, was trained in organic farming and hoping to find a farm in Ontario to practice his skills. He proposed that Hastings buy a

piece of land and he would work it. And then a property nearby, which had been abandoned for decades, went on the market at the very moment Hastings walked past the realtor’s office in her village. “Dirk and I agreed he would stay for one year and get the farm started and then visit from time to time.” Fifteen years later, and ten years since Hastings first purchased a bag of Red Fife, CIPM has 400 acres of crop production and its own on-site mill. She does most of the work with assistance from a miller, neighbouring farmers and seasonal help. “It’s absolutely fascinating work. And there’s so much to know and also so much we’ve forgotten

and Culinarium. One of the distinctive characteristics of CIPM is a focus on heritage varieties. “My theory was that since I was growing organically, I should try local varieties. David Fife’s farm here is geographically close to my farm, so I tried Red Fife.” Hastings experimented, growing modern and ancient varieties in tandem, and observed the results. Under the organic system, the yields were much the same in good years but in years of poor weather conditions the older varieties did much better. Personally, I’ve been a fan since my first tastes of nutty Red Fife bread back in the day of the JK Wine Bar. Now, a loaf of Connell’s

There’s so much to know and so much we’ve forgotten about with bread and flour and grains. about with bread and flour and grains.” Local chefs and bakers turn to CIPM for superior quality, freshness—yes, fresh is key— and the wholesomeness of the product. “I’m selling freshly milled flour that’s milled on Thursday and delivered on Friday,” explains Hastings. She cites Jamie Kennedy as her first client. Today, the list includes baker Jeff Connell at Woodlot, who credits her grains for a good deal of the full flavour in his robust breads. The distinctive CIPM flour bags can also be found in the kitchens of Ballygiblin’s in Carleton Place, Kingston’s Pan Chancho and numerous locales in Toronto including St John’s Bakery, Keriwa, The Healthy Butcher

light Red Fife, a staple in my home, might be devoured within hours of landing on the kitchen counter. One thing these pleasures have in common: they fuel rather than tire, even when eaten with gusto. Hastings describes a similar experience. “My husband can’t believe it, but I can eat practically a whole loaf of Jeff (Connell)’s bread with some cheese and salad and then head out into the field for a full day’s work. It’s so delicious. And really, it’s about as close to healthy as you can get.” CB Pamela Cuthbert, a food writer and editor, is published in Macleans, Saveur, The Edible City, Slow Food Almanac and elsewhere. She’s on a hunt for good food suppliers.

Early Spring 2012

9

The Gourmudgeon

By Stephen Temkin

Rock the fowl, not the chicken you go Guinea Fowl, you’ll never go back

When the chicken is foul, best let the Guinea step up Consumers here have been hesitant to try Guinea Fowl, and so not much is locally produced. In recent years, two excellent small suppliers have quit. The most available source is Flintshire Farms, a sizeable game bird operation in Flinton, but I find these less toothsome. For now, I prefer the birds from Quebec where, as in France, they are called Pintade. Look for a bird of about three pounds with darkish flesh, yellowish skin, and pockets of

10

CityBites

buttery fat on the thigh and along the breast. The more fat the better as Guinea Fowl rarely has too much. Expect to pay double the price of a typical chicken. Like other birds processed here, a Guinea Fowl will probably be excessively wet and sealed in plastic. The morning of the day you plan to roast it (or even the evening before) remove the bird from the wrap, pat it dry, set it on a rack over a plate and refrigerate uncovered. After several hours, it will look drier, yellower, and feel just a bit tacky. This will render a browner and crispier bird. Guinea Fowl is leaner than chicken and the margin of error for proper doneness is narrower. Just a few minutes of overcooking could produce a disappointing loss of succulence. A bit of fat supplementation is therefore advised. A thick slice of double-smoked bacon under the skin on each side of breast will have the double benefit of keeping the breast moist while enhancing the flavour with a whisper of smokiness. I’ve had good success roasting Guinea Fowl using the following method: Remove the bird from the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Season the cavity of the bird generously with unrefined sea salt. Stuff the cavity with about four peeled cloves of garlic, three or four finger-wide strips of lemon zest, a couple of fresh bay leaves and a small handful of fresh thyme. Carefully loosen the skin on the breast and insert the

Guinea Fowl and White Rock chicken battle for supremacy.

bacon as suggested above. Truss the bird. Smear duck fat all over the outside and season liberally with more sea salt. Set the bird breast side down on a rack over a shallow roasting pan. (Guinea Fowl have a pronounced breastbone and so a V-shaped rack is useful.) Roast it at 450°F for fifteen minutes and then turn the heat down to 350°. Do not open the oven door for at least 45 minutes. After about an hour, flip the bird over to finish breast side up, usually another 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the bird. When done, allow it to rest on a platter, breast side down, for at least fifteen minutes. Cut the bird into the standard array of joints and adorn with its own juices. Brussels sprouts roasted in the same pan until brown on the outside and creamy soft on the inside make a splendid side dish. CB

When not eating, drinking, or writing about eating and drinking, Stephen Temkin makes fedoras. stemkin@rogers.com

photo: carly & art (flickr.com)

I had a buddy of mine over for a simple meal one evening and served one of my household staples, roast Guinea Fowl. After the meal, he swore never to cook a White Rock chicken again. Can’t say I blame him. White Rock is the breed of chicken that constitutes nearly the entire chicken meat industry in this part of the world. Its supremacy has little to do with taste and a lot to do with money. Compared to a truly good bird, the flavour of the White Rock possesses all the charm of a clump of wet cardboard. What a disgrace. A basic roast chicken should be the most delicious of meals. But when the chicken is foul, best let the Guinea step up to the plate.

buying guide

By Kait Fowlie

What’s in a chicken? A quick look at your tastier poultry choices

Dignify your vegetables.

Fenwood Farm Bird: White Rock Farmstead: Ancaster Treatment: Anti-biotic-free and certified organic chickens available. Feed is GMO-free corn, roasted soybeans, vitamin herbs and probiotics to help build the immune system. Birds get three times the roaming space or traditional farms. Price: $3.65/lb. to $4.99/lb. whole bird Stores: Fiesta Farms; The Healthy Butcher; online at fenwoodfarm.com

HONEYED HEIRLOOM CARROTS EN PAPILLOTE

King Capon Bird: Ross Ross Cross Farmstead: Sharon Treatment: Grown slowly and naturally, and fed wheat, corn, distiller’s grain and soy. Water, light, heat, space and ventilation are closely monitored. Price: $2.99/lb. whole bird Stores: Sanagan’s Meat Locker (Kensington Market)

Rowe Farms Bird: Ross Farmstead: Various Ontario. Treatment: Antibiotic- and hormone-free, “conscientiously farmed,” nitrate free. Price: $3.99/lb. whole bird Stores: Rowe stores in Leslieville, Beaches, Roncesvalles, Bloor West, Annex, St. Lawrence Market North (Saturdays); also at Organic Garage, Highland Farms, Fiesta Farms and Fortino’s

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Yorkshire Valley Farms Bird: Ross Cross Farmstead: Yorkshire Farm in Keene and Betolianni Organic Farm in Peterborough Treatment: Organic, freerange chickens raised from day one on certified organic grains. No antibiotics, hormones or animal bi-products added. Price: $5/lb. to $6/lb. Stores: Natures Emporium; The Big Carrot; Organic Garage; Loblaws; Sobeys; Longos

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Early Spring 2012

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dining out

By Kate More

JK at the Falls Jamie Kennedy leads a team of local experts on a new gourmet venture “Canada is too large and diverse to have a singular traditional cuisine, it’s much more about region and the human element,” said Kennedy. “People from all over the world live in our country and it’s what people do with what grows here that’s exciting.” Regional producers such as Pingue Prosciutto and Upper Canada Cheese Co. are on the menu. Ontario wine is another menu staple. Kennedy feels that prized local varietals like riesling are “ingredients in the total package.” Windows head chef Ross Midgely will prepare a daily handout of local dishes paired with Ontario wine. The wine list is in the hands of Tony Aspler, creator of the Ontario Wine Awards, and Master Sommelier Bruce Wallner. “The wine list is a showcase of Ontario’s top wines,” said Aspler. Look for delights such as Hinterland Les Etoilles Method Traditional, Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2009, Le Clos

A new Window opens on JK’s world.

Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2007, Thirty Bench 2010 “Steelpost” Riesling and Southbrook 2007 Whimsey! Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 19. Aspler has also recommended specific Ontario wines to go with Windows dishes. “Jamie’s vegetarian tartlet with peppers and goat cheese would go beautifully with a Creekside Sauvignon Blanc,” said Aspler, “and there’s also his organic chicken pot pie, which would be nice with a Foreign Affair Pinot Noir.” “Although Ontario wine is our focus,” said Aspler, “we kept in mind that Niagara Falls draws tourists from around the world, so we chose a good crop of international wines too. In total we’ve selected 60 odd total wines with two-thirds coming from top Ontario producers.” CB

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CityBites

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Windows by Jamie Kennedy is the Toronto chef’s latest venture, and a new top-quality gourmet restaurant on the 14th floor of the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel. This means a clear view of Niagara Falls, and also a front row seat to the local cuisine scene. Tourists may have been flooding Niagara Falls for years, but never for the food. According to Kennedy, Windows is a much-needed bridge between international visitors and Ontario’s farm-fresh ingredients—and it will offer a hearty introduction into Ontario wine. “There is an increasingly significant link between the Niagara wine region and Toronto restaurants,” said Kennedy, “but Niagara Falls has been missing that connection.” The restaurant opened late last month. “The goal of our menu is to pinpoint the best local products and surprise tourists with what our region has to offer.”

urban farmer

By Arlene Hazzan Green

Thinking inside the Box

Photo: Arlene Hazzan Green

Think you can’t grow? Think again When the pressures of city life close in, one of the tastiest, most convenient and least expensive escapes is to one’s own backyard vegetable garden. For procrastinators, ‘fraidy cats and condo-dwelling urbanites there is one compelling solution that is sure to convert any reluctant grower—and that is a raised garden bed. Raised beds are openbottom boxes that sit directly on the ground and provide a great alternative to traditional in-ground gardening. Make sure to use food grade, natural products, the longest lasting being cedar.

“I have no space” Even a small raised bed allows you to grow more food in less space. Fresh, loose, uncompacted soil lets roots grow straight down and deep instead of out in all directions, allowing seed to be sown more closely together.

“I have no land” Raised beds can be retrofitted with a base so they can sit on a balcony, patio, deck or terrace. “The land I do have sucks”

The expression “dirt cheap” didn’t come from nowhere. Good, clean, weed free, well-structured soil is surprisingly inexpensive, so it’s easy to replace super sandy or stubborn clay soils with a perfectly balanced triple mix.

“I have a black thumb”

“I have squirrels and raccons”

People who think they can’t garden just need to follow the basic tenants: sun, soil, water and love. Starting small in a raised bed is more likely to lead to success. Raised bed gardening allows for an organized space that is contained, manageable and beautiful too. CB

Raised beds keep family pets and oblivious toddlers from trampling the garden and also provide a great structure for critter barriers.

Arlene Hazzan Green co-owns The Backyard Urban Farm Company (bufco.ca).

“I have a bad back” Raised beds bring the plants within reach so it’s easy on your back and body.

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Early Spring 2012

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head to head

By Zoltan Szabo | twitter @zoltanszabo

Some colour with your wine The original natural wines reach back to ancient times SPIRITED

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Another excellent wine from the Kakheti region in the East of The Republic of Georgia, made from Mtsvane grapes. Vinification in qvevri, fermented 100% on the skin and kept in qvevri for ten months before bottling.

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2009 Saperavi ‘Qvevri’, St. George Shavnabada Monastery Kakheti, Republic of Georgia | $40

2010 Mtsvane ‘Qvevri’, Khareba Kakheti, Republic of Georgia | $30

TOP CHEF CRUSH Wine Bar’s own Chef Trista Sheen will be featured on the upcoming season of Top Chef Canada. Airing March 12th at 10pm, Trista will one of 16 contestants battling it out in the kitchen! Join in the excitement each Monday night at 10 pm, when we will be broadcasting each episode along with food and drink specials. Call to find out more at 416-977-1234

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CityBites

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FISHMONGERING

By Dan Donovan

Fresh or Frozen?

photo: 123rf.com

In a new column, Hooked’s Dan Donovan answers your questions about seafood Everyday in our store we get questions about sustainability, safety, freshness, cooking methods, wine pairings and weeknight menu ideas. How do we get our kids to eat more seafood? Which is safest for new mothers? The staff at our shop, Hooked, are culinary professionals drawn from the city’s best restaurants and we are in conversation daily with chefs, fishers, processors, growers, and ecology advocates. There is a mountain of well-intentioned information, passionate and heartfelt opinion, as well as some pretty persuasive marketing hype that weighs on our decisions when choosing and cooking seafood. With seafood sustainability taking centre stage as a leading food issue in

North America, the volume is sure to be turned up on the rhetoric.  In this column, I will address wide-ranging topics about seafood, and we encourage readers to send in questions or just drop by the store and chat. Contact us at the website below, or email info@citybites.ca.

Which is better, fresh or frozen? This is probably the most asked question, and the answer is not straightforward. First, let’s talk about fresh. In the industry, fresh simply means “not frozen.” Few will dispute the glory of a fish just off the hook and into the pan, but the reality for most seafood is quite different. Fish are caught and held on ice, in boats that may be at sea for days before the catch is landed, filleted, packaged and shipped across the country or around the globe to a grocer’s distribution centre; from there, it is delivered to the seafood counter of your local store. In this instance, “fresh” may mean close to a week old. By contrast, seafood that is frozen at sea—or FAS—is often caught, processed and completely frozen within a matter of hours. Fresh fish must be handled carefully to avoid bruising and held at as close to 0°C as possible to slow bacterial breakdown. When freezing, the fish should be brought to -40°C to -65°C very quickly Sea choice: learn to assess your best fish options.

n

Top

to control the formation of ice crystals that can damage the cell structure and result in moisture loss when thawed. Properly frozen fish that is allowed to thaw slowly in the refrigerator can, in many cases, be better quality than what might normally be available as fresh. This is particularly true in cities far away from where the fish was caught. In some situations, frozen may be the best choice. Many types of fresh shellfish such as shrimp and scallops are very fragile and must be eaten soon after being caught, or treated with preservatives to extend shelf life. Luckily, these products freeze particularly well, so the processor can avoid using preservatives and deliver a very high-quality product.

‘Fresh’ may mean close to a week old There are no black-and-white answers, but here are a few guidelines: + unless you are seaside, shellfish that have been properly frozen without preservatives are your best choice + don’t blindly choose fresh over frozen. You must still assess the quality of the fresh fish. (We can talk about that in another column.) CB dan donovan is a graduate of the Stratford Chef School and a veteran of the Toronto restaurant scene. In 2011 he and his wife Kristin opened HOOKED (hookedinc.ca), Toronto’s only seafood retailer 100% committed to sustainability.

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15

By Kait Fowlie

Jam Session A creative and historical way to eat local

Film writer Susan Sontag once said that really good art is defined by its ability to defy boundaries. It will take an old tradition and make it new again, plucking a motif from one genre and inserting it into a new context, creating a unique product in its own right. This type of creation is what Stasis Preserves is all about, and by Sontag’s standards, they’re breaking some seriously creative ground.

Katz answers my questions in the distinctive manner of a chef, confident and matter-of-fact. While he has lent his culinary prowess to the Drake, Ruby Watchco and the Royal Ontario Museum’s c5, there’s an earthiness about him distinctive in those devoted to agriculture. For those of us who don’t spend our days making jam and thinking about soil cycles, it’s easy to forget how much better local produce

The pears are flawless and the jam is tastier than a homemade pie. Stasis’s jams, pickles and preserves harken to a time when salting, smoking and curing food was the only way to preserve in winter. Today we barely recognize these methods, and we’ve become accustomed to eating produce that’s been imported or filled with preservatives. The result is that the way we eat is arguably less healthy than we used to. Stasis is proving it’s possible to enjoy local, seasonal produce year round—it just takes a little defiance. At their recently opened store in the former Homebake Pizza location, perfect Ontario peaches, late summer raspberries, strawberries, and Bosc pears have been captured at their peak. Inside the carefully curated shop, Julian

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CityBites

is. In the city, the road to the local stuff is often the road less paved. “The more people buy locally produced food, the more the demand grows and the more everyone in the food chain will modify their practices to suit the public demand. This includes everyone from farmers, grocery stores, restaurateurs and the everyday consumer,” Julian explains. Julian presents his pear and roasted garlic chutney, squash barbeque sauce, onion chutney made with a from-scratch mustard, and black raspberry jam. The pears are flawless and the jam is tastier than a homemade pie. Next is a raw wildflower honey with a layer of knobby black walnuts on top. These are Stasis’s black

Stasis Preserves walnuts in honey. Black 476 Roncesvalles Ave. walnuts are seldom used 416-553-1079 by chefs because they’re stasispreserves.com so hard to crack, Julian tells me, but the flavour is superior. The black walnut spread quickly attracted the attention of food bloggers all over the city. It’s unconventional and insanely tasty. The walnuts sold in bulk at the store, however—a Persian variety from Niagara—are more practical for the home chef because they smash open easily. Julian cracks one on the counter and we share. It’s buttery and meaty with no bitterness whatsoever. The bulk nuts, dried herbs, garlic and shallots and handmade caramels make Stasis the host’s dream store. But by the time you read this, there will be an entirely new selection because the stock at Stasis is subject to the seasons. In the summer, the front window will be like a farmers market. “We are going to be working with our network of farmers to bring the freshest and best tasting fruit and vegetables in season, so expect the offerings to change weekly or even daily. We are getting more and more readymade foods that are simple, healthy and delicious.”  Roncesvalles is home to some of the best artisan food shops in the city, and they support each other. Julian says neighbour Lorraine Hawley, the owner of Mabel’s, was just in that morning—and she loves the hot sauce. Now that’s an endorsement. CB

kait fowlie is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She enjoys dive bars and park picnics. She also makes a mean vegan cornbread. Check out her Living on the Veg blog at citybitestoronto.tumblr.com.

Photos: Courtesy Stasis Preserves

living on the veg

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A DIVISION OF

By Sarah B. Hood

Raw Emotion Will we ever have access to raw milk? Should we? The debate continues

Seeking it out upon my return, I found Canada engaged in the great cheese battle of 1996, when 73,000 people signed a petition asking the federal government to allow raw-milk cheeses into this country. In July of that year, Health Canada declared import legal, and in 2008, Quebec legalized local production of soft and semi-soft raw cheeses, according to strict regulations. But sales of raw milk are still illegal here, despite some vigorous lobbying. Fans of raw milk cite copious anecdotal evidence to support their position that pasteurization destroys healthful attributes of the milk (along with dangerous pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria). They say that many people who are lactose-intolerant are able to drink raw milk. They claim it builds resistance to allergies—and some scientific studies support this claim. The raw milk aficionado will point out that there are risks to preparing many foods, like shellfish and chicken, which may

18

CityBites

Michael Schmidt after sentencing for raw milk offences in 2011.

legally be sold. They note that foodborne illness outbreaks can be caused by bean sprouts, deli meats or lettuce, which are not banned. If they are very determined, they may join a cowshare program, a legal loophole that in essence allows people to buy part of a cow and her yield of milk. This is only one facet of a broader trend. With the proliferation of farmer’s markets, the resurgence of interest in home canning and the recent flap over backyard chickens, consumers are reaching back towards older models of food production that, in some cases, clearly offer more wholesome choices. But the trend comes with risks. With our excellent refrigeration, manufacturing and transportation systems, our vaccines and our sewage treatment, we live in an era that has almost forgotten the risks of trichinosis from undercooked pork, botulism lurking in under-processed tin cans, and the spectres of widespread tuberculosis, smallpox

photo: Richard Chomko

Some years ago, in France, I fell in love with raw-milk cheese.

and cholera. Few now recall the early work of the Women’s Institutes here in Ontario, which prevented deaths simply by campaigning for mandatory packaging of bread, and which helped spearhead the legislation designed to eliminate fatalities caused by contaminated milk. Today, every province requires that milk for sale be pasteurized; Ontario’s legislation dates from 1938, and federal legislation was introduced in 1991. The Dairy Farmers of Canada solidly support these laws: “The medical and scientific community have long recognized that pasteurization is a must,” says Solange Heiss, Assistant Director for Marketing and Nutrition. “You cannot play with the health of consumers; it’s impossible.” She knows what she’s talking about: as a child at summer camp in Quebec, she was poisoned by raw milk. “We became so sick, about 20 of us, we could not be moved. The hospital people had to come and treat us onsite,” she says. “I went unconscious for many hours. It’s dangerous.” Heiss says she often hears of raw milk-related outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the U.S., where regulations differ from

Raw rules: Products from France, where raw milk is a way of life.

guilty and sentenced him with a fine of about $10,000 and a year’s probation. Schmidt has since filed an appeal, to be heard this April. Schmidt says he’s fighting for the principle “that people have a choice” and that he has no interest in rewriting the law. “My interest is in creating an exemption for people who connect directly to a program through a cowshare program and therefore have access to the raw milk,” he says, adding that he did not initially intend to sell raw milk, but “people came to us.” Not every dairy farm makes a good cowshare operation, he cautions. “I tell people you need to know your farmer. Food safety doesn’t start with having clean milking systems or sterilizing the lines: that is a given. A holistic approach is that

photos: [left to right] Worldharmony (flickr.com); Mary.Do (flickr.com)

It’s not enough to have just clean milk when we’re not sure the cow is fed and treated properly’ — dairy farmer Michael Schmidt state to state. However, she is unable to recall a recent noteworthy incident of raw-milk poisoning in Canada, and says that, with Quebec’s raw-milk cheeses, “we haven’t seen anything at all.” Then there’s Europe, where many countries permit the sale of raw milk, subject to certain quality controls. “I travel to Europe frequently, and you see cheeses are not even refrigerated,” she says, “but they have been doing it for centuries there, and I really think their bodies have gotten used to it.” Dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, who lives near Durham in Grey County, has been providing raw milk to private customers since 1990 through a cowshare program, probably the first in North America. These days a few others operate openly in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and the U.S., while an unknown number operate in secret. Schmidt, the best known advocate of cowshare arrangements, was charged for the first time in 1994 under the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act (for selling unpasteurized milk) and under the Milk Act (for operating a plant without a license). Since then he has waged highly publicized court battles and even gone on hunger strike to defend the right to buy and sell raw milk. Most recently, in November 2011, an Ontario Court of Appeal judge reversed a previous acquittal, found Schmidt

you look at your whole farm operation. That is where the real food safety comes from; it’s not enough to have just clean milk when we’re not sure the cow is fed and treated properly.” In Ontario today, an average dairy cow lives a maximum of five years and bears at most two calves, Schmidt says. “A hundred years ago, the problem was the transportation and the lack of testing of animals; now we have all these tools and we don’t have the skills. We have Holstein cows that give 10,000 gallons of milk a year, and that’s a problem. You have these cows who give three times more than they would naturally give, and then we wonder why up to 15 percent are contaminated with pathogens.” It might be easy to dismiss the claims of raw-milk enthusiasts, and indeed many researchers and legislators do just that. But when Schmidt conducted his own modest experiment with two calves, feeding one on raw milk and the other on pasteurized, the results (documented at thebovine.wordpress.com) were startling. The raw milk calf was certainly plumper-looking, but the most disturbing evidence lay below the surface. When the calves were slaughtered, the raw-milk calf’s internal organs were pink and healthy-looking, and his stomach contents were solid and grassy. The pasteurized-milk calf showed evidence Early Spring 2012

19

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CityBites

of severe digestive difficulties, and his organs were pale and sickly looking. “For me even, it was almost shocking when we got the results,” says Schmidt. Of course, two calves do not constitute scientific evidence. There apparently isn’t much more extensive research on cow, sheep or goat milk, but some research has been done on the effects of pasteurization on human breast milk, and the results are a little surprising. A 1986 article in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition documents a clinical trial of 68 low birth-weight babies, which found that infants fed on unpasteurized human milk gained weight and grew more quickly than those receiving pasteurized milk. The researchers said they believed pasteurization destroys milk enzymes that help babies to absorb fat. In October 2007, a similar experiment at Sweden’s Umeå University showed the same results. Two groups of premature babies were fed their own mothers’ milk for two weeks— pasteurized for one week and raw for the other. The babies absorbed 17% more fat with raw milk; they also gained more weight and gained more length from knee to heel. Clearly, pasteurization changes more than the bacteriological count of raw milk. Does this mean raw milk is a healthy choice? Health Canada’s position is unequivocal; they say “any possible benefits are outweighed by the serious risk of illness from drinking raw milk.” Even Schmidt does not oppose mandatory pasteurization for commercial dairy products. “I’m a great supporter of pasteurization, considering what’s going on these days in agriculture,” he says. “I’m not for general legalization of raw milk. Raw milk could be legal if we would have proper standards in place where we could say there is an accreditation process before you would even consider sending it out into the marketplace.” I’m happy to limit my raw-milk consumption to cheeses, but many people are convinced that raw milk is the best choice for their health. This debate is only one of many unfolding among North American consumers, producers and regulators as the pros and cons of our food regulations and production methods are re-evaluated, and—perhaps— some of our food-supply systems evolve to fit a new model based on older practises. CB Sarah B. Hood’s latest book is We Sure Can! How Jams and Pickles are Reviving the Lure and Lore of Local Foods. She blogs at www.eatlocallyblogglobally.com

BRUNCH

11am to 2pm Saturday + Sundays CHEESEWERKS gets you going with contemporary brunch concoctions of Quiches, Stratas and our Egg-Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese.

KITCHEN SINK SUNDAYS

Each Sunday we craft and serve warm and comforting classics like Mac + Cheese, Savoury Bread Puddings, and Casseroles all house-made with incredible artisan ingredients.

CHEESE FONDUE

By popular demand we are offering our Signature Cheese Fondue all the time! Just give us 2-days notice, so we can prep the ultimate ooey gooey meal for you.

CATERING

Dinner party? Special event? Company function? We can help. We offer a whole host of delicious options from Cheese Boards + Pairings, to Grilled Cheese stations.

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MARCH 2012 MARCH 30TH – APRIL 1ST

Meet the Makers Weekend Our signature Meet the Maker series is expanding in March for three-days of culinary and tasting experiences.

FRIDAY

CHEESEWERKS Board Member + VIP Tasting Event

SATURDAY

Urban Market & Artisan Dinner

SUNDAY

CHEESEWERKS Cooking Classes & Seminars

APRIL 2012

April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Join us for a month-long celebration, special events, new menu items, contests and amazing surprises!

WEEKLY FEATURES TUESDAYS

Every Tuesday night we offer our warm, crunchy ORIGINAL Grilled Cheese + a cold, crisp Craft Beer for only $10.

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Every Thursday we pair up a Canadian Artisan Cheese + a beautiful glass of local Wine for only $10. For all our latest events check out cheesewerks.com/events

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Cookbook Cookoff

By Greg Bolton

Recipes by the Book Challenged to follow pro recipes to the letter, we find recent top-end cookbooks deliver the promise—for the most part

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CityBites

If you’re a home cook, you probably buy a lot of cookbooks. And if you buy

Pre-dinner: notes and clutter.

a lot of cookbooks, you probably have a love-hate relationship with at least some of them. Most cookbooks fall into one broad categories: First, there’s the Hardcore Porn: books from restaurants like Alinea or Noma. Most people never make a single dish from these ones. Sure, they’re inspirational, but unless you have a cupboard full of agar-agar, a dry ice handler’s certificate, and a few free weekends to forage for edible heather, chances are pretty good that most home cooks are just buying these to show off or daydream over the pretty pictures. Next up are the Old Faithfuls: books that aren’t going to blow your doors off, but walk you through classic preparations or basic, simple dishes that rock. As an example, I love last year’s uber-trendy Plenty for its delicious simplicity, but I’ve also got an old Jacques Pépin book that I’ve turned to literally hundreds of times. Every home cook should have at least one book that’s the culinary equivalent of Linus’ blanket. Wedged between these two categories are the books we call Crap Shooters. These promise achievable, but also gorgeous, delicious-looking recipes, but sometimes deliver something a little less elevated. In our experience, this category makes up about 98 percent of all cookbooks. The preponderance of misleading or just plain crappy recipes is kind of an industry joke. Better home cooks understand this

and make adjustments as they cook. We’ve saved loads of recipes by tweaking them on the fly. For this, the inaugural CityBites Cookbook Cookoff, though, we decided to evaluate the books based on a meticulous adherence to the recipes as listed: no substitutions, no tweaking, no exceptions. We set our menu: five dishes from five sources. Then we assembled an expert panel to help us eat and evaluate. Why? Because we thought it would be a great way to judge the books, but also, because we knew it would be fun. Put another way, please enjoy this documentation of our excuse to get together, get stuffed, and get drunk. And this is as good a time as any to introduce our panel of experts, those who tucked in to a rousing dinner party on a recent Sunday evening.

Jamie Drummond: Good Food Revolution (goodfoodrev.com) Jen McNeely: She Does the City (shedoesthecity.com) Colleen Nicholson: Senior Associate Art Director, Canadian Family Edward Pond: Photographer Nicole Young: Food stylist and recipe developer

photos: edward pond

The Tasters

It All Starts with the Supplies The execution of a good recipe is reliant on supreme ingredients, and we’d like to thank our supporting purveyors. The Cheese Boutique provided much of the produce and base ingredients, as well as a hearty does of cheese to keep us sated during the cooking. The outstanding freshness of their ingredients made a noticeable difference, as you will read below. Thanks also to Hooked, the sustainable fishmonger in Leslieville, for consulting on and supplying the Pacific halibut that anchored a wildly successful main course from Heston Blumenthal’s cookbook. Read more about pristine seafood in the debut of Hooked proprietor Dan Donovan’s column Fishmongering on p. 15.

Ducasse: good, but lean.

Cream of Parsnip with Bacon Nature by Alain Ducasse We were pretty suspicious of this recipe from the moment we lit on it. On the one hand, look at those ingredients: cream, parsnips, bacon. Lord above, what’s not to love? But get into the recipe and you start reading about stuff like semi-skimmed milk, a “splash” of olive oil, “a little salt,” and “100mL of light cream.” Ok fine: this book is Ducasse’s nod to culinary simplicity and healthy choices. So then why include a cream soup in the first place? M. Ducasse, you’re a French chef, and a legendary one. But with every due respect, ou est le grease, dude? The result? Look, it wasn’t terrible. Parsnips always rock and bacon is life. But without fat to make it rich or stock to thin it out, we basically kicked off our meal with baby food cut with bacon. A nod is due to the outstanding parsnips supplied by our friends at The Cheese Boutique: these delivered a burst of pungently fresh, rooty flavour that made it all worthwhile.) Nobody would go so far as to disparage the dish, because it tasted okay, but in retrospect, Ducasse hit the post on this one. Jen suggested “a little bit of cream swirled in to offer a more elegant presentation and upgrade the soup from yum-yum to sumptuous.” Jamie agreed: “I adore parsnips, but this appears to be lacking something,.. I mean it just doesn’t taste nearly sinful enough.”

Joe Beef: lovely to eat and observe.

Salade d’Endive The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts by Frederic Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson Like the soup, this was chosen for its low degree of difficulty. Endives, toasted walnuts, green apple matchsticks, Stilton, chives, and a simple cider vinaigrette called “Apple Vinny.” The simplicity is very typical of this book, one of our favourites from last year—or any year, really. Salads are awesome for dinner parties because they’re so hard to screw up. Unless you burn the walnuts, which is exactly what I did. In my defense, the book said to toast them for 15 minutes, which was maybe seven minutes too long,

at least in my oven. But I should have been watching. Fortunately, I had extra. This was everything a salad should be: simple, refreshing and flat-out delicious. On the ingredient front, it all worked beautifully, and the dressing was perfect. As the recipe notes, “You can place (the endives) casually or stack them like a game of Jenga.” Nicely put. Although my plating and presentation skills would offend even the most grizzled federal inmate, it was impossible to make this dish look anything less than awesome. Colleen offered generously that “the presentation was gourmet-worthy.” And it was so tasty, I wanted to take it to a darkened room and just be alone with it for a little while. A great recipe from a great book. Early Spring 2012

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Chef Q&A

By Dick Snyder

Putting the Sex in Syrup Martin Picard doesn’t just like maple syrup. He lives for it

How versatile is it as an ingredient? It takes a lot of practice. The more we work it the more we find out what we can do with it. As a cook, I understand you cannot work with maple syrup like you do with white sugar. The structures are different, it’s not a dry product, it takes time to understand.

Sweet surrender: Picard in his element.

It’s a 380-page love letter to a single ingredient, a scientific treatise, and art book and fetish piece. Martin Picard’s Sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon is a delightful Dali-esque jaunt through the mind of one of Canada’s most inventive and driven explorers of flavor and identity. His Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon needs no introduction, famous as it is among top international chefs and Canadian citizenry alike. The sugar shack that Picard runs during the spring maple syrup season, about 45 minutes north of Montreal, sells out each year in a matter of hours. You may never get a reservation, so you might as well have this book. Picard put the entire thing together himself—with a dedicated and passionate crew of acolytes—wary as he was of the interference of conventional publishers. Good thing, because it’s a wild ride, oozing with passion, pleasure and fun. A bit of sweet sin for your kitchen shelf.

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CityBites

It’s as much an art book as a recipe book. Was that your intention? I think simply because we paid for everything, so that mean we are editor and publisher too, so we can do what we want. We don’t have any limits, and it gave it something more personal, and it gave us the chance to do what we want. You give your team a lot of credit. I think that’s why I’m stronger. Where I am today is because of everybody around me. We started this project the same as the other one [Au Pied de Cochon], with people who wanted to do a book but had no experience with book publishing. And I think it’s part of the magic. When doing a book [conventionally], you first say what y ou want, and never change ideas. But us, every week we changed our ideas and a regular editor would find it crazy. And it’s not the right way to do a book. You can feel the love. Yeah, when everyone gives 100 percent it gives a different colour at the end. And if everyone puts their effort it gives something so much more with love. In what context does maple syrup perform best? It goes very well with cream and milk,

that’s kind of the perfect wedding. And the kind of meat with a little sweet taste like duck, usually it gives very good results. Do you consider maple syrup to be sexy? [Pause.] Hahahaha. I do. There are some interesting critters in the book, some graphic images. Is squirrel something you really serve? No, no, we’re not allowed to serve those. But working it as a personal menu, that’s ok. The thing is, I’m a hunter and I understand how hard is it to work an animal [from] beginning until the end. I wanted to show it. And honestly I find it simply beautiful. I just love the look of those pictures. If you look at paintings from animals in the 15th century it’s not shocking. I work these animals with respect, and after that work, a plate can be beautiful. People are shocked very much these days. What’s next? We do have a new [TV] show [in the works]. But until it’s signed we cannot say it will work or not. We always have things in our heads. But for now, the sugar shack season is busy. For now, I prefer to live in the present. I hear reservations for Sugar Shack filled up in less than a day. We only took by them by email. You have to send it at midnight Dec. 1. We had 400 emails between midnight and 1 a.m. By the morning, the season was packed with over 10,000 people. It’s like a U2 show. Has Bono been to the shack yet? No, they don’t want to come because they’re too jealous. He’s got a lot of Facebook money to spend—maybe he’ll buy you up. Hahahaha. I like that very much! CB

photo: Martin Beaulieu

Why do you love maple syrup? I think it’s just part of our genetics, it’s very exclusive and very tasty and very unique. Being Canadian we have to proud of it.

Halibut in Olive Oil

photos: edward pond

at home by Heston Blumenthal Blumenthal is one of those chefs who likes his toys and molecular hoo-ha. This book is his attempt to bring things down to earth, and mostly, he succeeds. This halibut dish is a great example, a fantastic preparation that’s also dead simple. The recipe could not have been easier. Get some good halibut filets and enough olive oil to completely submerge them. Heat the olive oil to about 50°C, then drop in your fish. Poach for about 25 minutes until they’re ready for the plate. Drop on a nice wodge of Blumenthal’s delicious vanilla butter (made in advance by scraping three pods of vanilla into a stick of unsalted butter, which is then rolled into a log and bunged in the fridge until ready to use.) Basically, this is impossible to screw up. And I didn’t, except that I only had really expensive finishing olive oil on hand, so I cooked $45 dollars worth of Hooked’s outstanding flash-frozen Pacific halibut in about $45 worth of outstanding oil. Whoops. Use a cheaper oil and the dish won’t suffer. Just don’t scrimp on the fish. (Note: The season for fresh Pacific halibut begins in early spring. Hooked’s supply was expertly flash frozen last season and carefully thawed over several days, resulting in the kind of pristine quality required for this dish.) I’d make this recipe over and over again. The fish was firm, but so succulent. Pan searing or grilling is easier and faster, but poaching in oil is way sexier. It’s also very forgiving—important if you’re feeding a crowd. Everybody loved this one. In Jamie’s words: “I thought it was simply perfect. The delicacy of the fish’s flavours was enhanced by the cooking process... and texturally it was right on the money.”

Supporting role: perfection under fish.

Blumenthal via Tutti Matti: home run.

Tuscan Winter Veg TUTTI MATTI (unpublished) by Alida Solomon This was the only non-cookbook contender. We wanted to see if getting a recipe directly from a chef—in this case, Alida Solomon, proprietor and chef at Tutti Matti—would deliver cookbooklike results. I got the recipe over the phone at 11 p.m., and despite the late hour, I made sure to get exact quantities so that the playing field would be level with our book entries. I asked Alida for a recipe that would complement our main course. She suggested something she likes to serve under fish, and it ran like this: Jerusalem artichokes, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts tossed with capers, olives and roasted red onions. Oh, yeah: Did I forget to mention that all these vegetables were deepfried? And can I get a “hell, yeah!”? Solomon surely makes this better than I did, but honestly it couldn’t have been much better than what we ended up with. Followed to the letter, the recipe delivered the perfect dish to go under that perfect fish. At least a couple of our panelists called this one the best recipes of the night. Colleen loved the flavour imparted by the olives and capers, exclaiming: “What is this burst of salty goodness nestled in the fried wonderland beneath the fish?” “Brussels sprouts have never tasted so damn good,” added Jen. “Follow this recipe and the kids will devour their greens!”  Here’s hoping we see a Tutti Matti cookbook one day. CB Follow Greg Bolton on @pantryTO.

Pineapple UpsideDown Cake Sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon by Martin Picard Like the anchor in a relay race, dessert bears the burden of an impending finish line. The end is nigh, and it better be worth the wait. The just released tome by Montreal’s “wild chef” Martin Picard offers a selection of startlingly inventive desserts that left me in a panic. “I can’t do any of these,” I whispered as I leafed through the weighty tome. I settled on a dish credited to the mother of Picard’s pastry chef Gabrielle. It took two 500mL cans of my precious Quebec syrup, but it was worth every drop. Fair warning, though: Picard’s lackadaisical instructions belie a meticulous attention to chemistry, and you’d better have a candy thermometer at the ready, along with the patience of a fur trapper. The granulated maple sugar, an ingredient in the cake portion, took 90 minutes of monitored boiling and Picard gives no indication of the time required. In all, the dish took about three-and-a-half hours to complete. Followed to the letter—apart from the substitution of out-of-season strawberries for the called-for out-of-season cherries—I wouldn’t change much next time. And there will be a next time, for this delivered sweet maple-sugar comfort, sublime maple-infused stewed pineapple-strawberry goodness, and chewy-gooey pound cake, all wrapped up in the kind of retro-1950s gramma’s-kitchen package that just makes you go “ah… life is good.” Extra note: Don’t skip a single step, use your good judgment, and you’ll find this a very forgiving recipe. Picard calls for a cake pan, yet the photos show a kind of Le Creuset-looking enameled deep dish affair that I’ve never seen (and couldn’t find online). So I used a cast-iron skillet, to perfect results. — Dick Snyder Early Spring 2012

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By Jacob Richler

Fishing for Dinner

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CityBites

The best restaurant in Panama floats—and is at present semi-

A leg up: Oriol Serra Nadal and his pata negra; Michael Caballo and Jacob Richler.

permanently moored just off the coast of Isla del Rey, in the Pearl Islands, on a boat named the Pacific Provider. This much was already clear to me as I tucked into some housemade focaccia while sizing up the first course of my inaugural lunch on board. One might have called the dish a new, enriched take on a Caesar salad—but to me the sum of the new parts was something else and something more. The romaine hearts had been split—one half char-grilled, the other left raw and crisp, doubling their impact of taste and texture. The bacon had been supplanted by infinitely superior shards of oven-crisped jamón ibérico. The dressing was fortified with a robust dose of caper. And then there were the enrichments: a handful of warm, seared, plump local scallops, a scattering of intensely flavoured olive oil-preserved cherry tomatoes, and some halved, soft-boiled quails’ eggs. Old notes and new spoke together in enticing harmony.

And then came roast chicken—an exquisite chicken, indulgently fattened at an artisanal Florida farm called Pasture Prime on a poularde-diet of milk (and no, this does not involve a thick straw tightly clenched in a salivating beak, but rather, milk solids mixed into the customary grains). Flesh and skin had been cooked separately, so that neither was compromised by a cooking process better suited to the other. The slowcooked breast and thigh was exceptionally moist and tender, and the accompanying fried skin was as flawlessly crisp as, say, the Pommes Ana that were tucked beneath. The plate was finished with wilted greens and jus naturel. This is highly assured and sophisticated cooking, discreetly executed in the guise of simple concepts. And that to me is almost always the best sort of cuisine that there is. Which brings me to the strange part of this story: I had not come all this way for the food, but rather, for the fishing. Marlin

photo: Tobey Nemeth

Discovering friends and chefs in faraway places

photo: george fischer photo: xxxxxxxxx

fishing, to be precise, for the Pacific Provider is the freshly opened Panamanian bridgehead of the Vancouver-based West Coast Fishing Club, the first instalment in its diversification from salmon fishing in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Stranger still was the fact that after spending six hours in transit to get to the pacific Provider from Toronto—by passenger jet, then prop plane, off-road ATV and finally, a weathered outboard—I knew the chef by reputation and the manager personally from their days back in Toronto. The chef is Michael Caballo, who some time back helped put the Niagara Street Café on the map. And the manager is his wife, Tobey Nemeth, a fine chef in her own right—at least I always thought so, when she used to oversee my lunch as chef de cuisine at the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar on Church Street, back in its heyday. “Your old sommelier sends his best,” I told her, shortly after clambering on-board that morning. “Jamie Drummond!” Nemeth exclaimed. “How is he?” I brought greetings from other well-wishers, too. Some were industry types, others customers, and a handful were both. Like our formerly mutual butcher, Steve Alexander of Cumbrae, with whom I used to sometimes take lunch at her bar. An hour after lunch on the Provider we headed out fishing. Nemeth requested that I return with a nice amberjack and I took the assignment seriously. A couple of hours later I came back with a 20-pounder, and then—my work done— repaired to the indoor bar (there were two others, outdoors) for a Hendrick’s martini. I was soon joined in the lounge by a man I had first taken notice of on the flight to Isla del Rey from Panama City. He had been hard to miss: he spent part of the journey lovingly cradling a rectangular white Styrofoam box, which, when pressed, he cheerfully revealed to contain an entire leg of pata negra ham. He had brought along a few cases of Spanish wine, too. Needless to say, I wanted to make friends. So I quickly learned that Oriol Serra Nadal was a transplanted Panama City-based Catalan, in the food and wine importation and distribution business, specializing in products from the homeland. And on that note, he proved to be so irrepressibly passionate about issues of Spanish gastronomy as to be incapable of remaining seated in his barstool while extolling their virtues. All I had to do to was utter key words like

Host afloat: Tobey Nemeth.

NEWS FLASH

“suckling pig,” “chorizo,” “belAs this story went to press, we received lotta” or “Santi Santamaria” and word that Michael Caballo and Tobey he would leap off his stool and Nemeth had sealed the deal (first ratified onto his feet, and take a step back with a handshake and tequila shot last to be better positioned to wave month) to take over the Niagara Street his arms about excitedly as he Café from Anton Potvin, who’s moving on extemporized on the subject in to a variety of projects that may include broken English. Then he would a food-oriented TV show. The Café will sit back down for a few minutes remain open till March 31, with guest chef and enjoy his drink—until I got him started again. Steve Gonzales (ex-Origin) dealing signaHis exuberance was both enture Latin-themed dishes. Look for a new gaging and infectious, and so restaurant and a new name coming soon! when he offered a pata negra slicing lesson I followed him without hesitation to the kitchen. There, chef Caballo and I watched closely as Nadal cut the skin and fat from an entire leg of pata negra ham, the finest jamón ibérico money can buy, levelled out the top edge and got to horizontal slicing. Although mostly, he just waved his knife around and talked about it. “The fat and skin protects the ham! The fat on the outside is no good to eat. But the fat on the inside – oh yes, it is so, so good. It is the only fat from an animal that is like fat from a vegetable, like olive oil, full of good cholesterol!” Nadal is no Jack Sprat, and for his sake, I did hope he was right. In any case, we soon tucked in to see what he was talking about. It was a very good ham, if young for my taste. But the giant chorizo that followed was definitively the finest I had ever sampled, even in Spain. After a sinful amount of each, we all moved on to the dinner table. Our meal began with the recently expired amberjack, not cooked but lightly cured in seco, a local rum strong enough to spontaneously ignite from mere proximity to a lit cigarette. The fish was wonderfully firm, mildly chewy, and was dressed up with cool cucumber, crisp-fried shallots and a pine nut vinaigrette with a spicy bite. Lovely stuff, I thought at the time. But the next course was of that rare dish that makes you forget all about what came before. Langosto ajo blanco—a tail of local spiny lobster, lightly cooked a la plancha, served in a pool of white (almond and garlic) gazpacho with two complementary takes on hearts of palm (raw and shaved, cooked and julienned) and a scattering of salsa verde over top. It was blissfully good. The mornings that followed began with commendable house made croissants, among other treats. A few hours after my fishing companion—my father-in-law, Greg Jump—reeled in an 85-pound Yellowfin tuna, we were enjoying sashimi of its belly at the bar, as a happy hour snack. Then it showed up on the dinner menu as a carpaccio sprinkled with crispy shallots, and another time, barely cooked and sprinkled with migas and salsa romesco. Finally, we had it cold-smoked and topped with a salad of shaved fennel and citrus segments. When I caught a Dorado, it became a brilliant Dorado revuelto—essentially, brandade de dorade. I was extremely keen on the fideua de camarones, sort of paella with pasta standing in for the rice. But looking over the menus weeks after my return, of all the highlights the one that stands out most is the escudella de conejo, a Catalan bean stew with rabbit in three takes: botifarra, pelota and stuffed saddle. Early Spring 2012

27

Word apparently got out quickly on the mainland that this Canadian fishing camp is the new place to dine: for each night, we anglers shared the dining room with Panamanian regulars. One evening, at cocktail hour, Nemeth told us that Roberto Duran’s son would be dropping in with some friends— and, just possibly at my prompting, talk at the bar quickly turned to speculation as to whether Caballo could come up with enough courses to get the unfortunate fellow to say “no mas!” Alas, we were disappointed. Nemeth and Caballo came to this strange life via a circuitous and unplanned route. They quit Toronto for a necessary change of scene (she had done five years at the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar on Church and he three at Niagara Street Cafe) They stopped first in Italy, where they were delegates to the annual Terre Madre conference. There they linked up with the wonderful Susan McKenna Grant, the former Toronto software executive who in the early nineties with her husband Michael bought a dilapidated farm in Chianti, Tuscany, called La Petraia, which they have been lovingly restoring ever since. Nemeth and Caballo worked there for a year. Then they headed to Vancouver, where they fell in with the West Coast Fishing Club, a camp operator with a unique commitment to the quality of its food and wine program. Top Chef Canada champ Dale Mackay of Ensemble Restaurant in Vancouver was the chef at the WCFC Queen Charlotte Islands lodge The Clubhouse for three years. The incomparable David Hawksworth is an annual guest chef there. And last summer Jamie Kennedy made a guest chef appearance at the WCFC sister-camp North Island Lodge, where Nemeth and Caballo ran things before taking up the new challenge in Panama. With that culinary program so successfully launched, Nemeth and Caballo have now resigned, and in the first week of February headed to Paris, to eat out in the name of research while waiting to learn if their bid on a restaurant of their own in Toronto is accepted. If it is, they hope to re-launch it in May. Which happens to be the same month that the WCFC will announce its next chef for the Pacific Provider in Panama, in time for the peak summer fishing season. All of which is to say that while it is far too early to make bookings for Nemeth and Caballo’s next place, if you like some tip top fishing with your fine dining, log onto the West Coast Fishing Club’s website. It works for me. CB Jacob Richler writes and lives in Toronto.

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CityBites

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Szabo on Wine

By John Szabo MS

Too Stuffed Up to Drink But you’ll still be able to sniff out the good stuff What smells and tastes good makes us happy, right? Well, sometimes. But it turns out there’s more to pleasure than meets the tongue. Your cravings have a deeper, more primal source than the momentary burst of delight transmitted by your taste buds. You are more cleverly programmed than you imagined. Our understanding of taste mechanisms and brain response have evolved slowly. Democritus hypothesized that the shapes of atoms caused taste sensations. “Jagged” atomic food particles, he offered, irritate the tongue and cause a bitter sensation, while smooth atoms roll easily over the tongue to deliver sweetness. Later, Aristotle described the four primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Since then we’ve discovered taste buds and olfactory neurons. We know the tongue is tuned into not four but five taste sensations: the fifth, umami (literally “delicious taste”), is triggered by the tasty amino acid glutamate. It’s also become clear that the tongue delivers only a fraction of the flavour experience, as anyone who’s tried to taste wine with a stuffed nose knows. Up to 90 percent of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. From an evolutionary standpoint, taste and smell are warning mechanisms, alerting us to potentially harmful substances. Most poisonous substances are bitter, and sourness indicates unripe (and therefore less nutritious or caloric) foods, or spoilage. Taste and smell are also sources of pleasure. When we eat the “right” things, substances that promote our survival, a rush of dopamine is released in the brain’s pleasure centre. We are literally programmed to crave the appropriate things. A surprising new discovery indicates that the act of eating or drinking itself is not the only source of gustatory pleasure. It turns out that at least a part of our sensory delight—the pleasure that makes us crave things—comes well after the taste buds and olfactory neurons have stopped firing, and the food or wine is in your belly. Scientists at Duke studied mice with an inability to perceive sweet tastes. These mutant mice, along with normal mice, were given access to

sugar water and normal water. If pleasure was restricted to taste sensation alone, you’d expect the disabled mice to show no preference for sugar water over regular water, since they can’t tell the difference. And initially this is what happened: the disabled mice made no distinction, while the functioning mice greedily lapped up the sugar water. But after a few hours the mutants showed a preference for the sugar water. Researchers concluded the mice were responding to the calories, not the sweet taste. This was verified by a control group using caloriefree sweetener. When dopamine levels were measured, the normal mice showed a spike in response to both fake sugar and real sugar—the reward was the sweet taste—while the mutant mice got the dopamine high from the real McCoy. In other words, they had to have been digging the calories; energy is apparently inherently delicious. It makes evolutionary sense that we’d have an internal mechanism for detecting what we really need. So don’t fret next time you have a head cold. Here are a few savoury or sweet wines that will still give you (delayed) pleasure when you can’t taste or smell: 2008 FONTODI CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG 91 pts | $29.95

Herbal, spicy, earthy and dried red fruit-scented Chianti with firm, juicy, texture and terrific length—a superior Chianti all in all. 2003 DOMDECHANT WERNER HOCHEIMER KIRCHENSTUECK RIESLING AUSLESE Prädikatswein 91 pts | $27.95

Fully mature and in a prime drinking shape, with ripe, fleshy stone fruit and lightly honeyed character. 2009 M. CHAPOUTIER PETITE RUCHE CROZES-

John Szabo MS prefers

HERMITAGE AC 89 pts |

his wine straight up and

$22.95 An elegant syrah

natural, and tweets

with plenty of regional character (black pepper, licorice, cassis). Best after 2014.

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Early Spring 2012

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the ej

By Konrad Ejbich

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Changes in government may come quickly, but changes in government thinking do not. No matter which party is in power, politicians tend to think of alcohol as their exclusive golden goose. And a golden goose it is. Last year, the government received a $1.56 billion dividend from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (KGBO) on sales of $4.6 billion. Now, a new report submitted by economist Don Drummond proposes that Ontario “aggressively pursue” the building of more stores to increase access to alcohol to boost sales and profits. He also recommends raising excise taxes on liquor and selling off the liquor board’s head office building, located on the lakefront next door to the Toronto Star building. Drummond concludes this land is simply too valuable to waste on government pencil-pushers. Recently, in his year-end statement, provincial auditor-general Jim McCarter told the province to order KGBO buyers to squeeze suppliers harder to get better pricing. McCarter also advised keeping retail wine prices high to skim more dollars for Ontario’s coffers. Both of these number-crunchers appear to have completely missed the boat. Looking for more ways to bleed cash from Ontario wineries is tantamount to strip-searching a homeless person for small change. Drummond claimed everything was on the table. Well, sir, the real money comes with privatization. Alberta privatized liquor sales 20 years ago. The overnight change did not result in rampant drunkenness, increased crime, a spike in unemployment, or greater access to alcohol for minors. Social anarchy, it appears, is not an issue in Canada. Alberta also discovered there’s even more money to be made by leaving the liquor business to the private sector while focusing on good governance and just taxation. From a strictly financial point of view, it makes sense to dump the KGBO. If you think $200 million is a lot of money for one square block of land on Toronto’s lakefront, imagine how much revenue could be saved by killing the enormous property rental payments made every month on 600 retail outlets in the primest-of-prime locations all across the province. And don’t think those stores come empty. The bottles that are stocked inside each store would easily fetch a hefty price. Next, by eliminating the wages and benefits of almost 4000 employees, our savings would stretch beyond the millions. According to last year’s provincial government salaries list almost 250 KGBO staffers are paid more than $100,000. Do we need a chief executive officer taking home more than $400,000 of the people’s money? “Lost jobs” would not increase provincial unemployment. Those people would end up working in similar positions in the private sector with a wine beer or spirit agency or private retailer. Maybe not at $100,000 per year, but certainly at a fair wage. Much money would also be saved that’s currently spent (extravagantly) on building topof-the-line retail spaces in high-end malls. The KGBO is a monopoly, for goodness sake. It doesn’t need bleached oak and marble to attract thirsty consumers. If they peddled booze from the back of a rusty dumpster, we’d still be buying. As for lost revenue for government coffers? It’s a myth and a lie, spread by both KGBO management as well as the unions they manage. The province can have its cake and eat it too by giving private enterprise all the risks, costs and administration, and having business collect the taxes to hand over to the treasury, just as it does with drugs, cigarettes and gasoline. Government’s mandate is to license, regulate, inspect and control quality and audit businesses, while the role of private enterprise should by to carry out the day-to-day activities of selecting, importing, warehousing, distributing and selling wines, beers and spirits in the province. Konrad ejbich is a member of In the clearest terms, government the Wine Writer’s Circle of Canada. should focus on governing, so the rest He answers caller questions on CBC of us can mind our own business... Radio’s Ontario Today. He’s currently and that should include the liquor updating his Pocket Guide to Ontario Wines, Wineries, Vineyards & Vines. business. CB Follow twitter.com/WineZone

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CityBites

Libations

By Stephen Beaumont | @ BeaumontDrinks

Hop Along An outbreak of bitterness among craft brewers is most welcome It wasn’t that long ago that you would struggle to find a hoppy beer in this city, something with a really healthy dose of bitterness. Pale ales were few and far between, and India pale ales, or IPAs, were virtually non-existent, save for that ersatz pretender from down east. Now, however, big, hoppy ales are busting out all over, from local breweries and their cross-Canada counterparts. And damn it, some of them are pretty good! To make sense of this uncharacteristic outbreak of bitterness , I sat down to a blind tasting of eleven recent bitter beer arrivals, all pale ales or IPAs and each marking a strong turn away from this province’s tasty but typically restrained approach to hops, as illustrated by beers like Black Oak Pale Ale and Wellington SPA. Even the most mild mannered was a hops powerhouse compared to anything you might have seen in the LCBO a decade or so ago. While it would be a far stretch to suggest than any one beer took cues from another, a review of my notes neatly divides the beers into three broad flavour camps: fragrant, fruity and forceful. Beers in the fragrant camp emphasize the aromatic aspects of the hop, of course, but never at the expense of a dry and hoppy—read: appetizing and refreshing—body. Lightest of these, perhaps lightest of the whole tasting, is Great Lakes Brewing’s Crazy Canuck Pale Ale, a charmer with fruity and floral notes in the aroma and a superb mix of peach and tobacco-ish hop in the body. Hophead India Pale Ale from Tree Brewing in B.C. and the brand new Hops & Robbers IPA from Double Trouble Brewing here in Ontario are each a bit bigger, but still wonderfully aromatic, with herbals and soft fruit notes, and relatively restrained in the bitterness department.

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Big, hoppy ales are busting out all over... and they’re pretty good! Leading the fragrant pack, however, and actually topping the tasting in my view, is Muskoka Brewing’s Mad Tom IPA, a beer with such wonderful aromatics and superb balance that it begs to be savoured all afternoon Curmudgeon IPA, $3.60/500mL and into the night, which at 6.4% alcohol is a daunting proposition. at LCBO. The fruity contingent is headed by Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale, which presents the pineapple used in its brewing quite forcefully in aroma and taste. Almost as fruity in its aroma, although more spicy and nutty in the body, is Beau’s seasonal Beaver River IPA, while more of a dried fruit character is evident in Kingston Brewing Company’s Augusta Ale. For the hopheads in the crew, only the forceful will do, and the best of that contingent comes to us from B.C. by way of Keep6 Imports, Central City’s Red Racer IPA. Piney and citrusy but balanced, the Red Racer is hop-forward without being frightening, and wonderfully thirst quenching. Smashbomb Atomic IPA from Barrie’s Flying Monkeys has its hoppiness tempered by an ample dose of butterscotch flavours, while Amsterdam Brewing’s brewery-exclusive Boneshaker IPA really does shake some bones with an unapologetic and unsubtle bitterness. The final forceful contender is one that doesn’t quite fit with the rest, Grand River Brewing’s Curmudgeon IPA. Although unquestionably hoppy, it boasts a biscuity character that almost takes it into the realm of a brown ale, and Stephen Beaumont a maltiness that makes it the most versatile of the lot tastes, writes and for partnering with food. tweets from his home Whether you like your beer bitter and brawny or in downtown Toronto. pretty and perfumed, though, these eleven do prove that Follow him at @ BeaumontDrinks. Ontario now offers something for every taste. CB

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33

one last bite

By Kait Fowlie

Glacial Gastronomy

What does a dinner party look like 120 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula? Carol Devine and Wendy Trusler could tell you. The two women responsible for the well being of the volunteers of a Canada-Russian Antarctic clean-up crew established pleasure as a staple in the earth’s southernmost continent. They compiled their journal excerpts, recipes, menu plans and photographs into The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning, showcasing their summer of clearing accumulated debris off the coast, and of course, cooking and eating. “Food became such an important part of it,” says Carol, “because we were doing hard physical labour in one of the most remote places on earth and you just think, what’s for lunch?” Meals rightly became anticipated social events. Stationed next to base camps of Chileans, Uruguayans, Russians and Chinese, Wendy and Carol’s dinner table often saw representatives from several countries. “We didn’t share a language but we’d end up talking about food— that was the common thing. I’d gather recipes from the surrounding bases and I liked to try them out on the people where the food came from,” says Wendy. She produced cazuela and caipirinhas from a makeshift kitchen she installed herself in a small empty building. Through stories, Carol and Wendy illuminate this ice continent’s unique history, politics and environment. “There was this shelf on one wall which had a whole bunch of empty vodka bottles on it, and it moved,” says Wendy. “Behind it was a room filled with old radio equipment from the Cold War era—it was a secret communications room. I cleared all the wires out and made it my pantry. Then filled the vodka bottles with spices.” This and other stories make Carol and Wendy’s Antarctic a hotspot where cake is currency, dinner unites nations, and anything is possible. Pre-order the limited edition book at theantarcticbookofcookingandcleaning.com.

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CityBites

Photos:  Sandy Nicholson; Book design: Gilbert Li

Breaking the ice and breaking bread

The Best Food & Drink Celebration in Town! wn!

March 16-18, 2012 International Centre, Mississauga FREE PARKING

FRIDAY: 2 pm - 10 pm, SATURDAY: Noon - 10 pm SUNDAY: Noon - 6 pm Come and enjoy superb wines, beers and spirits. Taste the latest releases and educate your palate! Feast on our fabulous selection of local and international foods - all under one roof!

Free shuttle to and from Kipling Station For public transit info visit us online

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International Centre presents the“Savour Local”

Host of Pitchin’ In and Chef/Owner of Ruby Watchco & Ruby Eats. Live Saturday at the KitchenAid® Sip & Savour Stage.

Come experience our unique ‘pop-up’ restaurant, featuring award-winning Chef Levesque’s interpretation of ethnic street food. Inspired by local ingredients & paired with craft beverages, a portion of each prix fixe will be donated to the Friends of We Care Charitable Foundation.

Alexander Keith’s Pub

Enjoy a real pub experience while learning about the beer, the man and the legend. The Alexander Keith’s Pub will host “Beer School” offering sampling and pairing all weekend.

Cheese Tasting Seminars

Dairy Farmers of Canada present on-going daily seminars where you will sample a variety of cheeses and learn how to perfectly pair wine & cheese. All included with your admission.

Official Get-Home-Safe Partner ADMISSION RESTRICTED TO 19+

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Issue 41 - Early Spring 2012