Page 1

SPRING 2014

Photo Essay

THE ICONS OF TORONTO 15 RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT (P11)

LCBO KIOSKS (p7) Why the Liberals’ bright idea sucks

FRESH FISH (p30)

Arron Barberian Barberian’s Steak House

How do you know it’s fresh?

GROW (p31)

Get your plants ready for summer

Get More Visit

citybites.ca

PLUS! WHISKEY BLENDS + WINE TASTING + ARIZONA + TOP ICEWINES


FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to CityBites issue No. 50. The big 5-0. We’ve been publishing for 9 years now—holy crap! The foodie landscape in Toronto has changed a lot since 2005. So with our 50th, we decided to pay homage to the chefs and restaurants that have been around a while. The ones that seem to transcend time and trends. We went visual for this story, tasking a few talented photographers with capturing the essence of their subjects. That alone is a challenge. Despite what you see on TV, not all chefs want to hog the spotlight. In fact, many of our pioneering and hugely successful restaurateurs are humble and shy to the core. They let their handiwork do the talking. Read on, enjoy the shots. Ponder the genius.

contents Spring 2014

No.50

SEE SHELLS The wall of fame at Rodney’s.

citybites.ca

Dick Snyder, Editor • dick@citybites.ca

@citybites

city bites magazine

citybitestoronto

Deliciously online at

The Features 11

The Icons of Toronto Meet the restaurants and chefs that have helped us get to where we are today.

Editor Dick Snyder/dick@citybites.ca Art Director Craig Sinclair/craig@citybites.ca Managing Editor Natalie Goldenberg-Fife/natalie@citybites.ca Wine Editor John Szabo Director of Vinous Affairs Zoltan Szabo Director of Spirits + Beer Stephen Beaumont Intern Sarah Wright Contributors Dan Donovan, Konrad Ejbich, Marc Green,

The Restaurant Pages 4

SHOP Did you know you can buy a glass of beer at Longo’s?

6 Crumbs News for eaters and drinkers.

Nick Green Photography and illustration John Hryniuk, Henny Hwang, Rick O’Brien, Simone Saunders, Dick Snyder Publisher Paul Alsop/paul@citybites.ca Sr. Account Manager Wendy Lyall Gardner/wendy@citybites.ca Email info@citybites.ca or visit www.citybites.ca

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

Advertising Inquiries sales@citybites.ca

The Experts 29 Szabo on Wine John Szabo raises Arizona. 30 Fishmongering

traces your fish.

Dan Donovan

7

RANT Why the Liberals’ LCBO kiosk idea sucks.

9

Head to Head The best Icewines to drink right now.

31

Grow Marc Green helps with your spring planting.

32 The Ej

Konrad Ejbich reports from the tasting room.

33 Libations

Stephen Beaumont enjoys some blended whiskies.

The End Made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation

34 One Last Bite

Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant.

City Bites Media Inc., 26 Dalhousie St. Suite 200, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5, 647-827-1705. City Bites is published six times a year by City Bites Media Inc.

Cover photo by Henny Hwang/hennygraphy.com.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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RESTAURANTS // SHOP

By Dick Snyder | @CityBites

THE RESTAURANT PAGES Longo’s serves up beer and wine GET YOUR GROCERIES AND THEN BELLY UP TO THE BAR FOR A WELL-DESERVED LOCAL TIPPLE Quick. Name a grocery store in Toronto that has a bar in it. Well, there’s only technically the one, so that was a hard question. The local and independently owned Longo Bros. chain of grocery stores has quietly introduced licensed lounges in three of its stores—in Leaside, Oakville and downtown Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square—and are serving only Ontario wine and beer to anyone with a thirst brought on by an intense bought of grocery shopping. This is positively European in its civility. You almost feel like you’re about to get busted for drinking within sight of the diaper aisle. But the vibe in the deep recesses of the Maple Leaf Square store—while perhaps wanting in the plush comfort arena—is certainly convivial and welcoming. As are the prices: $4 for a 12-ouncer of King Pilsner on tap ($6 for a 20) or $7 for a 600mL bottle of Beau’s Lug Tread. You can order food too, of course, drawing from the on-site kitchen for such expected delicacies as pizza, wings

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CityBites / Spring 2014

TEAM CITYBITES HENNY HWANG Henny is a Toronto photographer whose work spans fashion, lifestyle, weddings, and design. In her work, she looks for romantic and timeless images that tell a story. Henny enjoys traveling and exploring the city searching for hidden gems and the best white sangria. JOHN HRYNIUK John has been taking photos for most of his life. When he’s not shooting for clients, he’s working on personal projects like celebrity look-a-likes and dog shows. Based in Toronto but working all over the world, John just returned from photographing miners in Northern Quebec. If you’re curious about the pronunciation of his last name—it’s “her-nick.” RICK O’BRIEN From film-to-music-to-food

and pulled pork sandwiches. The food is acceptable, not mind-blowing, but the wines will elevate your taste buds. Inspired choices like Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay go for $12 a glass (or only $48 a bottle; that’s less than 100% markup). You can get a 13th Street Merlot for $8 a glass (6 oz.). The list of beers and wines changes regularly, and there are specials to be had too. No, you’re not dreaming. Welcome to a new Ontario. CB

portraits, Rick really gets around town. He also makes chefs laugh. It’s best to let his Instagram—@rickettes—do the talking.

Get in touch! Send emails to info@citybites.ca or snail mail to CityBites, 26 Dalhousie St., Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5. Letters may be edited for space and accuracy.


RESTAURANTS // CRUMBS

By Nick Green | @_NicholasGee

... There’s a hot new spot coming to the hottest, up-and-coming neighbourhood in the city, and you heard about it here first. Dundas and Carlaw, a bar serving a tantalizing mix of pub classics and fresh-baked comfort food, will be opening this spring. Look forward to a huge corner patio, local brews and a promise of bacon jam. (1173 Dundas St. E., facebook.com/dundasandcarlaw, @DundasAndCarlaw) ... Got beef? If not, check out the newest offering at Weslodge Saloon. The Cutting Board, a new prix fixe

up a new spring menu that is so unique it might just out-hipster the hipsters. Look forward to Blue Crab salad with fennel-roasted tomatoes and coconut lime dressing, and the Texas Tempeh Burger with crunchy onion rings. (1214 Queen St. W., gladstonehotel.com, @GladstoneHotel) ... Drake Hotel has a similarly hipsterlicious spring menu coming out, featuring, most notably, oyster slider. (1150 Queen St. W., thedrakehotel.ca, @TheDrakeHotel) ... Speaking of the Drake, its younger sibling Drake One Fifty is rumoured to be participating

menu, consists of a premium selection of the chef’s choicest cuts

in a series of collaborative pop-ups this summer, beginning with a

of meat. Pig out on some slow-roasted pork shoulder, peck at the

Cinco de Mayo special with James Beard Award-winning chef Donnie

crispy hen, have a cow over their ribeye, and the duck sausages are worth the $29 bill. (480 King St. W., weslodge.com, @Weslodge)

Masterston. Stay tuned for details. (150 York St., drakeonefifty.ca) ... Small Town Food Co., indisputably one of the hottest new

All the news you can eat and drink ... Happy Birthday to the folks at Marcel’s Bistro. The popular upscale French restaurant, known for their grilled venison and roasted lamb, turns 30 this year. Like most 30-year olds, they’re thrilled for their accomplishments, but totally thought they’d have kids by now. (315 King St. W., marcels.com, @MarcelsBistro) ... Dieters are going to want to avoid King West this summer, as Canteen is set to be serving the most delicious and unhealthy food known to man. Dubbed the Dugout Dogs, the Entertainment District eatery will be selling two gluten-free blue cornmeal corn dogs with fries and homemade ballpark mustard for $12 every day that the Blue Jays have a home game, from 11 a.m. until they’re sold out. I’ve never been this excited for baseball. (330 King St. W., oliverandbonacini.com, @Oliver_Bonacini) ... The internet is abuzz over a new location of a popular taco spot. Rumour has it that Grand Electric will be opening a seasonal outpost in Muskoka. Expect more of the same, minus the twohour wait. (1130 Queen St. W., grandelectricbar.com, @GrandElectricTO) ... Speaking of Mexican food

The Ploughman at The Gladstone.

(well, fused with Korean in this case), Barrio Coreano, for lunch. Now you can get your Korean spare ribs and watermelon

Parkdale spots, is excited to announce that they’re bringing back the alligator for the summer, though they’re not quite sure how just

sashimi from noon-onwards, Tuesday to Sunday. (642 Bloor St. W.,

yet. Look forward to other new dishes such as foie gras gyoza,

playacabana.com, @PlayaCabana) ... There’s another pizza place

duck carpaccio, and a new cocktail list. (1263 Queen St. W.,

screwing up the Village residents’ Pride bodies. North of Brooklyn Pizzeria will be open soon, serving carb- and gluten-free vegan health food. Oh wait. No. Make that cheese-covered dough that tastes

smalltownbar.com, @SmallTownFoodCo) ... Got Mother’s Day plans yet? Better get on it, cuz this city is known for booking up fast! If you’re looking to really treat your ma (she deserves it), TOCA at the

awesome and goes straight to your love handles. Hashtag worth it.

Ritz Carlton has something exciting in the works. Their special Mother’s

(467 Church St., northofbrooklyn.com, @NorthOfBrooklyn) ... Finally,

Day menu is featuring the works, including a seafood bar with lobster

a place to get tipsy on Richmond St. The Fifth Café is adding a new

tail, oysters, and sushi, eggs benedict, beef Wellington, and juniper

wine bar. they’re claiming to take the stuffiness out of wine, offering

and cider brine-cured roasted cornish hens. (181 Wellington St. W.,

a French feel with accessible prices. Enjoy with an array of locally

ritzcarlton.com, @RitzCarlton) ... And finally, some news from our

sourced charcuterie, oysters, foie gras, or other tasty tapas.

friends at Momofuku Toronto. Noodle Bar and Milk Bar are now

(225 Richmond St. W., thefifth.com) ... Popular food truck Fidel Gastro

offering delivery in the downtown core, so you can nosh on their New

is teaming up with restaurant retail king Nella Cucina for Table 876, a

York-fabulous food in your own home. Also, Daishō is now open for

Beau’s beer-paired four-course meal in the end of May. The mouthwatering menu includes chicken-fried rabbit grits and Oxtail-stuffed

weekday lunches, offering a three-course meal for $30 that changes frequently. (190 University Ave., momofuku.com, @Momofuku)

baked potato. Yeah. (876 Bathurst St., nellacucina.ca, fidelgastro.ca, @FidelGastros) ... Chef Mario Paz of The Gladstone Hotel has cooked

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CityBites / Spring 2014

Email tips, opening soons and discoveries to info@citybites.ca.

PHOTO: THE GLADSTONE

the Koreatown location from the folks at Playa Cabana, is now open


NEWS

By Stephen Beaumont

Why the Liberals’ grocery store LCBO kiosks are a bad idea On the surface, it seemed like progress. The oh-so-benevolent Ontario Liberal government announced on April 1—of all days!—that a modicum of convenience was coming to booze retailing in the province. They’ve proposed a test run of ten LCBO kiosks set up in supermarkets located where there is no easy access to an LCBO store. They’ll be kept quite separate from the supermarket itself, of course, with their own cashiers, LCBO ownership and such. But still—it’s supermarket alcohol sales! On second glance, however, the Liberal plan appears as cynical electioneering of the very worst kind. We’re not getting increased selection, different pricing or greater accessibility during odd times of the day, just a handful slightly more convenient outlets scattered across the province in as-yetunidentified locations, with the promise of more to come if the experiment works. Or, in other words, a patronizing pat on the head and off you go, now. It’s on third look that this plan becomes truly insidious, though. Perhaps even contrary to the Ontario beverage aficionado’s dream of someday seeing increased selection of the sort easily found in Alberta and New York state. Here’s why.

No one should be fooled into thinking that these kiosks are going to stock anything other than the big name brands, save perhaps for some Ontario craft beer and a handful of VQA wines. At a reported 2,000 square feet in size—that’s the government decreed “minimum,” but does anyone think that a supermarket will hand over to the LCBO more retail space than they actually need to? I didn’t think so—these will be smallfootprint stores, and so will need to maximize their bang for the buck by offering the corporation’s best-selling brands. Plus some local content to make it all look good.

A patronizing pat on the head and off you go, now. Given the above, think of the carry-over effect of transferring retail dollars from stores with wide product ranges to ones with significantly reduced selection. If I’m doing my grocery shopping and remember that there is no gin in the liquor Continued on Page 8

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Spring 2014 / CityBites

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NEWS

By Stephen Beaumont

Continued from Page 7 cabinet, I’m not likely to head over to the LCBO store with greater selection to buy a bottle. I’ll simply pick up whatever is on sale at the kiosk, probably a major international brand like Tanqueray or Beefeater. And in transferring that sale from a smaller brand like Victoria Gin or the Botanist, I’m casting my vote for less selection, not more. With the ten test market stores, this effect will be negligible. With a significantly expanded program, well, it could have some farreaching implications. Note that this situation would be unique to an LCBO-grocery store kiosk arrangement. If liquor sales were the purview of the stores themselves, I would be free to elect to do my shopping in one which offered me a wide selection, just as I am free to opt to shop in a store that stocks organic produce or naturally raised meat. What the kiosk system will do is make the consumer choose between selection and convenience, and my bet is that a fair number will opt for the latter. That action will strengthening sales of big name brands and weaken those of the sort of niche brands one might buy on impulse were they lined up beside the major players. The ultimate net effect of which may very well be fewer brands available at the average LCBO, rather than the expanded selection that anyone with a foot in the present day might like to see come to Ontario. CB

Do you like free stuff that you can eat and/or drink? Visit our website. Sign up to our email list. Good things will come to you. And don’t forget to follow @CityBites for good stuff too.

citybites.ca coming to stores May 2014 nealbrothersfoods.com

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CityBites / Spring 2014


RESTAURANTS // HEAD TO HEAD

By Zoltan Szabo | @zoltanszabo

Ontario’s top Icewines FIVE SWEET ICEWINES PLUS ONE GREAT LATE HARVEST RARE

BUBBLY

Rare and exotic, rich and sweet, yet balanced. Kumquat and acacia honey with herbal and mineral undertones.

This is an absolutely stunning local specialty. Raspberries, bay leaf and red table grape flavours with gentle effervescence and über-long finish.

chateaudescharmes.com

inniskillin.com

ROUND

FLORAL

ELEGANT

Tasting like candied stone fruit, honey and butter. Full weight and round, not lacking freshness.

Cherry-berry fruit, rose petals and sage. Not heavy, with firm acidity and great length. Vintages #672402

pillitteri.com

henryofpelham.com

Dried peaches and tangerine emulsion with underlying honey and floral notes, rightly sweet, focused and elegant.

Château des Charmes 2009 Savagnin Icewine St. David’s Bench Vineyard $75 | 375 mL

Pillitteri 2007 Chardonnay Icewine $60 | 375 mL

Inniskillin 2011 Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine $120 | 375 mL

Henry of Pelham 2012 Cabernet Icewine $40 | 200 mL

PLUSH

Hernder 2007 Syrah Icewine $50 | 375 mL

Strawberries, Indian spice and sweet duck fat nuances, with lively freshness and plush texture. Barrel fermented. hernder.com

Lailey 2012 Select Late Harvest Vidal $20 | 375 mL

GREA PRICET !

laileyvineyard.com

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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the Icons of Toronto MEET THE RESTAURANT HEROES WHO’VE PUT TORONTO’S DINING SCENE ON THE MAP Sure, they’ve been around a while. They aren’t trendy. They don’t appear on the multiple “best new” lists that the food media churns like so much chum. But these are the places that helped build Toronto’s food scene. The places that customers really care about, and return to again and again. These are also the restaurants that have begat so many other restaurants. And for that, we are thankful. Herewith, our highly subjective photographic look at Toronto’s restaurant icons.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Jump

Est. 1987

By Nick Green Peter Oliver has come far since serving three-dollar lunches at his bakery back in 1978. Known for his ambition and nearobsessive attention to detail, he turned to chef Michael Bonacini, then working at Centro, when the opportunity arose to open a restaurant in the Financial District. That was 1987, a rough year for the money. But the move paid off and the success of Jump set in motion the Oliver and Bonacini empire. While each new restaurant has earned a unique spot in the city’s culinary tapestry, from downtown power lunching with the Café Grill, Biff’s and Jump, to haute Canadian cuisine with Canoe, this duo makes its most significant mark by, in the words of Oliver, “investing in young people who have good ideas.” Fingers firmly on the pulse, they’re churning out their own competition by grooming some of the city’s best and brightest chefs and restaurateurs.

PHOTO: MALCOLM BROWN

18 Wellington St. W., 416-363-3400

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CityBites / Spring 2014


Barberian’s Steak House

Est. 1959

By Dick Snyder There may be all manner of steak house in Toronto, from chic and trendy to oldschool and divey, but there’s only one Barberian’s. Elm Street’s flagship truly retains the vision of its founder, Harry Barberian. Today, his son Arron runs the show, and what a show it is. The customer is royalty here, and when Arron’s on the floor—which is most of the time—every single customer may as well be a celebrity. Barberian’s may be called a “classic” steak house, but this is no dusty museum. The place hops with energy, and a communal feeling from all the diners that they’d rather be nowhere else. Of course, a great steak and a superb wine go a long way too.

PHOTO: HENNY HWANG

7 Elm St., 416-597-0335

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Allen’s

Est. 1987

143 Danforth Ave., 416-463-3086

Est. 1978

By Dick Snyder There wasn’t much happening on Queen West back in 1978. That’s when André Rosenbaum and David Stearn opened a tiny 18-seat café modeled on the bohemian coffee houses of Europe that were so dear to their hearts. The place has changed a lot since then—and it hasn’t. Sure, it’s bigger. They’ve taken over two more storefronts to the west. And the menu’s grown from soup and sandwiches into a veritable global odyssey. (Ping gai, anyone?) But the vibe is the draw even to this day. On a chilly weekday at 11:25, there’s always a few people waiting patiently for opening time—and some of the best lunch deals in town. And yes, the coffee is really good too. 208 Queen St. W., 416-598-4719

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CityBites / Spring 2014

PHOTO: JOHN HRYNIUK

Queen Mother Café

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

By Dick Snyder He built it so they would come. But they never came—at least, not at first. John Maxwell opened Allen’s on the Danforth to cater to a crowd that was meant to flock to a theatre that never get off the ground. It was supposed to open next door in what is now the Music Hall. It didn’t. Maxwell had a lease to fulfill and so he forged ahead. Twentyseven years later, we’re glad he did. If there is a quintessential Irish-American saloon, then this is it. The theatre is in the packed room anyway, every night.


Rodney’s Oyster House

Est. 1986

By Natalie Goldenberg-Fife Toronto’s oyster pioneer, Rodney Clark started shucking oysters in the private homes of the city’s wealthiest folk in the early eighties. His father, who had a construction business in P.E.I., would send along small boxes of oysters for his Toronto clients. Rodney would deliver the oysters at night and was often asked back to open them on the weekend. Both chefs and party-goers at these events soon became wowed by Rodney’s stellar abilities in the realms of shellfish and storytelling—two pillars that lead to the building of a bustling wholesale business and a restaurant soon after. “In those first years, I was selling 600 to 1000 oysters. This past year we sold 1.7 million cases. My interest has always been the passion of—and behind— the work. The bed sheets not the spreadsheets!”

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

469 King St. W., 416-363-8105

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Est. 2013

The gentlemen behind Nota Bene and The Carbon Bar are most assuredly Toronto’s fine-dining power trio. Franco Prevedello has a restaurant pedigree that goes way back in this city, and even further back in Italy. He worked at Toronto legends like the Birch Room, Winston’s and La Scala, before opening his own Biffi Bistro in 1980. Today he’s a landlord, condo developer and active partner with chef David Lee and general manager extraordinaire Yannick Bigourdan as they continue to reignite the “fine” in fine dining. In 2008, after selling the legendary Splendido, the trio set out to glitz up Queen West, opening Nota Bene just down the street from the new opera house. Late last year, they went all southern ribs and grits with The Carbon Bar, simultaneously an ode to authentic BBQ and also a kick in its teeth. The glamorous, soaring space on Queen East is about as far from “rib shack” as you can get. But man, the food is smokin’ good. 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000

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CityBites / Spring 2014

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

The Carbon Bar


Splendido

Est. 1991

By Natalie Goldenberg-Fife An impressive number of the city’s greatest restaurateurs, sommeliers and chefs have spent time within the walls of Splendido. Heavy-hitting duo Yannick Birgourdan and David Lee (now at Nota Bene and The Carbon Bar) headed the empire in its glory years from 2001 to 2009—eventually selling Splendido to their eagle-eyed GM Carlo Catallo and talented young chef de cuisine Victor Barry. This past January, Victor became sole proprietor, while Catallo moved on to franchise The County General. “I think our signature appeal… is that the answer is always ‘yes’ and we go from there,” says Barry. “You will always have great service and great food. You are here to enjoy yourself and indulge in rich luxurious treats like a smoked oyster, foie gras, truffles and lobster. It will always be expensive no matter what and that will never change.” 88 Harbord St., 416-929-7788

Join Chef Susur Lee in Muskoka May 23 − 25 | Deerhurst Resort Meet, mingle and savour the culinary artistry of one of Canada’s most acclaimed chefs during this remarkable Muskoka getaway. 2-nt package from $384*/person

1-855-460-9675 | deerhurstresort.com/susur-lee

PHOTO: NIKKI LEIGH MCKEAN

*Based on double occupancy; conditions apply.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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The Great Ontario Special feature sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Within the rolling hills of Oxford County, Shep Ysselstein produces small-scale artisan cheeses in an authentic Swiss style using traditional recipes. TRY: Gunn’s Hill Soft, Gunn’s Hill Hard, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Curd. 445172 Gunns Hill Rd.,Woodstock, 519-424-4024 gunnshillcheese.ca

Pine River Cheese Local milk is meticulously graded to make 14 varieties of cheese, including an 8-year aged cheddar and some organic varieties. TRY: Colby, Monterey Jack, Caramelized Onion Cheddar.

Mountainoak Cheese The Van Bergeijk family understands that great cheese needs great milk. TRY: Mild and aged Premium Dutch Gouda.

635 Hwy 21 S., R.R. #4 Ripley, Huron-Kinloss, 519-3952638, pinerivercheese.com

3165 Huron Rd., New Hamburg, 519-662-4967, mountainoakcheese.ca

Railway City Brewing Co. Whether it’s a fruity seasonal pilsner or a full-bodied ale, each Railway City brew has a flavour as unforgettable as its name. TRY: Iron Spike Blonde, Dead Elephant Ale.

Bright Cheese and Butter Bright Cheese and Butter Mfg. Co. started in 1874 as a farm co-op and is one of Ontario’s oldest traditional cheddar producers. TRY: Naturally aged cheddars. R.R. #1, 816503 County Rd. #22, Bright, 519-454-4810, brightcheeseandbutter.com

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Seriously hoppy brews come in psychedelic looking bottles with quotes under each cap. Don’t let the whimsy fool you! TRY: Flying Monkey Amber Ale, Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale.

168 Curtis St., St. Thomas 519-631-1881, railwaycitybrewing.com

107 Dunlop St., East Barrie 705-721-8989, theflyingmonkeys.ca

WINDSOR LONDON

GUELPH

BARRIE

TORONTO

Jensen Cheese Established in 1925 by Arne Jensen, a master cheese maker from Denmark. Cheddar is a specialty, using old-world curing processes to maximize flavour. TRY: Mild Cheddar, 4 Year Old Cheddar, Vintage Reserve Cheddar.

Steam Whistle Pilsner Three friends set out in 1998 to make a Pilsner that would compete with the best in the world. They did it. And it’s the only beer they make to this day. TRY: Steamwhistle Pilsner. The Roundhouse, 255 Bremner Blvd., Toronto, 1-866-24-0-BEER, steamwhistle.ca

37 Evergreen Hill Rd., Simcoe, 519-426-4523, jensencheese.ca Upper Canada Cheese Co. Unique flavours come courtesy of a rare Niagara herd of Guernsey cows, a recipe developed by Trappist Monks and minimal processing. TRY: Guernsey Girl fresh cheese, Comfort Cream, Niagara Gold.

Great Lakes Brewery Small batch brewing and local ingredients keep Ontario beer enthusiasts committed. TRY: Devil’s Pale Ale, Crazy Canuck Pale Ale.

4159 Jordan Rd., Jordan Station 905-562-9730, uppercanadacheesecompany.com

30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd., Toronto, 416-255-4510, greatlakesbeer.com

Black River Cheese Old-world craftsmanship dating back to its 1901 beginnings as a co-op for local farmers. TRY: Maple Cheddar, award-winning Mild Cheddar, and Aged Cheddar (up to 6 years). 913 County Rd. 13, R.R. #2, Athol 613-476-2575, blackrivercheese.com


Cheese & Ale Trail Muskoka Brewery Freshness and independence rule at the Muskoka brewery, where a selection of easydrinking beers is handcrafted in the heart of Muskoka. TRY: Mad Tom IPA, Summer Weiss.

SUDBURY

Thornloe Cheese Old-fashioned techniques and fresh local milk from the district of Temiskaming give Thornloe cheese its trusted reputation. TRY: Casey Blue, Evanturel, Temiskaming. 999697 Hwy 11 N., Thornloe 705-647-7441, thornloecheese.ca

13 Taylor Rd., Bracebridge 705-646-1266, muskokabrewery.com

Empire Cheese & Butter Co-Op The only cheese factory in Northumberland County, making cheese open-vat style for 135 years, to give maximum flavour. TRY: Marble Cheddar. R.R. #5, 1120 County Rd. #8 Campbellford, 705-653-3187, empirecheese.ca

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Beau’s very first batch won best beer at the 2006 Toronto Golden Tap Awards, and an extensive selection has been racking up the accolades ever since. TRY: Lug Tread Lagered Ale, Wild Oats series. Maple Dale Cheese Cheddars are a specialty and a crowd-pleasing fresh curd is made daily. The roadside store is packed with gourmet treats. TRY: “Outrageously Old” 6 Year Cheddar, Fresh Curd, Roasted Garlic Cheddar. 2864 Hwy 37 N., R.R. #1, Plainfield 613-477-2454, mapledalecheese.com

10 Terry Fox Dr., Vankleek Hill 866-585-BEER, beaus.ca

OTTAWA

Ivanhoe Cheese Dating from 1870, this award-winning operation began as a dairy cooperative located in the hamlet of Ivanhoe. Artisan aged cheddars are a specialty. TRY: Naturally Smoked Gouda, flavoured Monterey Jacks, Horseradish Cheddar. 11301 Hwy 62 N., R.R. #5, Madoc, 1-800-268-0508, ivanhoecheese.com

St. Albert Cheese Manufacturing Five generations of farmers have maintained St. Albert’s trusted recipes, from melt-in-your mouth curds to spiced-up cheddars. TRY: Mild Cheddar, Cheddar Curds, Canadian Swiss.

Glengarry Fine Cheese A passionate family farm, making cheese from their own Holstein cows. TRY: Figaro soft cheese, Lankaaster Traditional Gouda, Barely Blue.

150 St-Paul St., St-Albert, 613-987-2872, fromage-st-albert.com

5926 County Rd. #34, R.R. #1 Lancaster, 1-888-816-0903, glengarrycheesemaking.on.ca

ILLUSTRATION: NICK CRAINE

BELLEVILLE


North 44

Est. 1990

He’s the top Top Chef, a Toronto institution, and still just a young man with so much ahead of him. Mark McEwan reigns over a handful of the city’s dreamiest tables: Bymark, ONE, Fabbrica and, his very first, North 44. He’s got a gourmet shop too, McEwan, which is no mean feat. But North 44 is where, pardon the pun, he made his mark. And while many restaurants by many a star chef have gradually faded away, McEwan won’t let that happen to his baby. It still gets his full attention, and this spring will enjoy a little sprucing up. In the kitchen is Sash Simpson, who’s been with McEwan for 14 years. If loyalty were currency, McEwan would be a rich man indeed.

coming to stores May 2014 nealbrothersfoods.com

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CityBites / Spring 2014

PHOTO: JOHN HRYNIUK

2537 Yonge St., 416-487-4897


PHOTO: RICCARDO CELLERE

Jamie Kennedy at Gilead Café Wine Bar Est. 2008 By Natalie Goldenberg-Fife It was straight out of high school in 1974 that Jamie Kennedy decided to put a hold on pursuing a degree in fine arts and instead opted for a three-year cooking apprenticeship at the Windsor Arms Hotel. In his career since then, there have been ups (an Order of Canada) and downs (three restaurant closures). Always revered for his pure uncluttered flavours and vociferous support of local agriculture and talent, Jamie Kennedy is probably the most recognizable chef for what’s relevant in the Southern Ontario local-food market. “I am probably most famous for my French fries because they are representative of my core values: locally sourced, high quality and made with care,” he says. In 2008, Jamie opened the small-scale Gilead Café in Corktown, serving up dishes that showcase the products and wine of Ontario. His catering business, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, has been a thriving enterprise since 1983. 4 Gilead Pl., 647-288-0680

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Mildred’s Temple Kitchen Est. 1989 as Mildred Pierce By Dick Snyder Just so you know, Donna Dooher is the woman behind Mildred. And she’s ubiquitous, a tireless promoter of all that is good and just in the world of food and hospitality. Cookbook author, TV show star, restaurateur extraordinaire, and, dare we say, do-gooder of exemplary effect. If the cause is truly worthy, there must be some Dooher in there. But diners know her as the woman of brunch, and her legendary Sundays at the original Mildred Pierce on Sudbury Street still bring mist to many eyes. In 2007, she and partner Kevin Gallagher decamped to Liberty Village and re-launched as Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. A modern space with down-home comfort cuisine, the Temple is still drawing the faithful. As it ever will.

PHOTO: EDWARD POND

85 Hanna Ave., 416-588-5695

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CityBites / Spring 2014


Southern Accent

Est. 1984

For 30 years, this eclectic hodge-podge of a space in the Mirvish Village (aka Markham Street) has set the standard for southern hospitality in the city. Proprietor Frances Wood and chef/partner Thessavan Maniceavasakan preside over a two-floor emporia of kitsch, backed by a menu of southern treats and a serious devotion to hard liquor and cocktails. But the end is nigh, as the sale of Honest Ed’s portends a new world order. The psychics and the crazy artwork will have to pull up stakes. Where will we go for a taste of Cajun/Creole? No one knows for sure. But in the meantime, they’re still cooking in Mirvish Village. Get it while you can.

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

595 Markham St., 416-536-3211

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Est. 1992

By Dick Snyder They say it may be the best wine cellar in Toronto. Who says? Sommelier extreme Zoltan Szabo, for one. Wine Spectator magazine, for two. Opus received the magazine’s Grand Award, bestowed upon only 72 restaurants worldwide. Brothers Tony and Mario Amaro call their list the most comprehensive in Canada. Bold words for a bold place. Opus is a Yorkville institution, a power player’s haunt from which to conduct power plays. Chef Jason Cox has put 13 years into the restaurant, and his cooking is supremely haute—in the realm of lobster, foie gras and white truffles (and that’s just the appetizer menu). Opus is not showy, but elegant. It’s an oasis, a secretive spot that has achieved a certain untrendy trendiness. Those in the know, they know about it. And if you don’t know, you likely can’t afford it. 37 Prince Arthur Ave., 416-921-3105

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CityBites / Spring 2014

PHOTO: MALCOLM BROWN

Opus Restaurant


Le Sélect Bistro

Est. 1977

By Natalie Goldenberg-Fife For a taste of the best of French gastronomy, this charming downtown bistro has always been the cheaper alternative to a plane ticket to France. From the black-and-while tiled floors to an answeringmachine greeting that plays La Marseillaise, Le Sélect takes a stand for all that is French, minus perhaps the snootiness. After 30 years on Queen West, owners Frederic Geisweiller and Jean-Jacques Quinsac decamped to the wilds of Wellington West, and their fans went with them. In the recent years, the rich food has practically become sinless, thanks to Chef Albert Ponzo’s commitment to using only certified local and sustainable products and Ocean Wise seafood. Duck confit and choucroute garnie may now be guiltless, but are still correctly fatty enough.

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

432 Wellington St. W., Toronto, 416-596-6405

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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Scaramouche

Est. 1980

Keith Froggett is not a Toronto chef. He’s not covered in tattoos, he doesn’t Instagram every dish as it goes through the pass, and he’s not on the cover of The Grid five time a year. Oh wait, he was once. But that was a good thing—a well-deserved article that correctly applauded Froggett’s stellar accomplishments at the helm of Toronto’s poshest restaurant. Chef Carolyn Reid works side by side with Froggett. Even the hipster chefs are in awe— the few who bother to make the trek uptown are almost apoplectic in their social media gushes. Yes, service can be this good. Yes, food can be this consistent. Yes, that’s how you pour wine. You know, the little things that make a restaurant. It’s here at Scaramouche, and has been for, oh, 34 years… since Michael Stadtlander and Jamie Kennedy opened the place.

PHOTO: RICK O’BRIEN

1 Benvenuto Pl., 416-961-8011

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CityBites / Spring 2014


Joso’s

Est. 1977

Popularly known as “the fish restaurant” and “the place with all the boobs,” Joso’s has been delivering on both fronts for 37 years. The Ave and Dav stalwart still packs in both a loyal clientele and those in the know. Miraculously, it’s no longer one of the most expensive restaurants in town. The prices ain’t exactly 1977 prices, but some of the downtown hipster joints make Joso’s feel like a bargain. Super fresh fish is still the main draw, even as the original Joso has long since retired and returned to Croatia. His son, Leo, mans the kitchen, and Leo’s wife Shirley works the floor. For opulent artwork (perhaps a tad risqué…) and insanely fresh fish, Joso’s has still got it. 202 Davenport Rd., 416-925-1903

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Growing

ideas

Community building and creative collaboration

in the world of gastronomy

May 12th ARCADIAN COURT Tickets +HST

2014 TORONTO, ON $229

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EXPERTS // SZABO

By John Szabo MS | @johnszabo

Raising Arizona wines

PHOTO: DICK SNYDER

IT’S HOT AS HELL AND NEAR INHOSPITABLE, BUT ARIZONA IS MAKING SOME GOOD WINES I came for the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and hiking in the energy vortexes of Sedona’s red rock country. But in the end, I left energized by the grapes. Arizona hardly leaps to mind as a source of premium wines, yet the harsh conditions of this high desert country are yielding some striking bottles. One thousand meter plus elevations, dramatic day-night temperature swings, three hundred days of sunshine, poor, stony, volcanic soils and the right mix of experimentalism and know-how converge to create a wine industry with genuine potential. The state’s first grape grower’s license post prohibition was issued in 1974 to what is now Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, about the same time that grape growing got underway in Marlborough and the Niagara Peninsula. Development picked up in the 1990s, and today there are over 30 wineries bottling wines. There are two main growing regions: the largest centers around Willcox and Sonoita/Elgin, in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Mexican border. The other region lies north of Phoenix in the Verde Valley of Yavapai County, a few minutes south of Sedona. Making wine in Arizona is not without its challenges, as Dick Erath would find out. Like so many retirees, Erath, who was among the pioneers of the now billiondollar Oregon wine Arizona in Ontario The Wine Agents represent industry, started Arizona Stronghold coming to Arizona Vineyards in Ontario for the sun and jointthe wineagents.com friendly aridity, but became intrigued by the potential for premium wine as he had so many years ago in Oregon. In 2004 he bought a 40acre parcel of land near Willcox, and in 2006 established Cimarron Vineyards and planted more than a dozen different grapes. But even with 40 years experience, he failed to anticipate unique hazards such

DRY HEAT The Verde Valley of Arizona is one of Arizona’s main wine regions.

as rattlesnakes and voracious rabbits and deer, although the troublesome occurrence of monsoon rains near harvest time were more familiar. Challenges notwithstanding, Erath believes in Arizona’s potential. The star winemaker’s presence gave a big shot in the arm to the entire industry, as did the arrival of rock star Maynard James Keenan, Tool’s lead singer. Keenan partnered with ex-David Bruce (of Sonoma) winemaker Eric Glomski, owner/winemaker at Page Spring Cellars in Arizona’s Verde Valley, to purchase the historic Dos Cabezas property in 2007 and co-founded Arizona Stronghold Vineyards across the fence from Erath. With more than 120 acres planted in two sites, ASV is one of the state’s major players. And although Keenan has since moved on to launch Caduceus Cellars in the Verde Valley, as well as an innovative cooperative winery concept called Arizona 48 (Arizona was the 48th state), his high profile has helped put Arizona wines on national and international maps. (For the full story on Keenan and Glomski, check out the documentary Blood Into Wine.) From my limited tastings, whites are a work in progress. Reds, however, show real character. Although some of the

oldest plantings in the state are Bordeaux varieties motivated by fashion rather than suitability, the latest wave of vineyards are more logically inspired by the Mediterranean: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Montepulciano, Primitivo and Sangiovese are the most promising. Experimental parcels of grapes like Tinta Cao and Souzao may yet earn their place, though for the moment Rhône and Italian-style blends dominate the scene. Stop into any local wine shop and you’ll still find plenty of kitschy labels, dodgy quality and high prices, the latter a particularly common and troublesome problem in newish regions where investors hope to recoup capital costs within a lifetime. But the best wines have authentically savoury and crunchy fruit character, salty minerality, bright natural acids retained by the cold dessert nights, and the post modern touch of gentle wood influence. Arizona is well worth a visit, and no longer just for the Canyon. CB JOHN SZABO is a Master Sommelier and principle critic for WineAlign.com. He’s probably sipping a tangy red right now, or wishing he were.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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EXPERTS // FISHMONGERING

By Dan Donovan | @hookedinc

How fresh is your catch of the day, really? TECHNOLOGY MAY ADD MORE TRUTH TO THE MEANING OF ‘FRESH FROM THE SEA’ When did this fish come in? Years ago when our food distribution system was simpler, this was a good question to ask your local merchant. Now it almost always will receive a cheerful and sincere “today” in response. What the discerning customer really wants to know is if the fish is at its best, and this has more to do with when it was caught and handled on the way. For a long time, the seafood industry has sold customers on the notion that everything is fresh from the sea—just landed, catch of the day and so on. But when was the fish actually caught? It depends.

Fish touted as having arrived fresh that day may be 10 days old. Many small operators will “day boat,” making short trips during the day and landing their catches immediately. But many commercial fisheries use larger vessels that operate further offshore for up to five days at a time. In both cases the fish are stored on ice in the hold of the vessel. Refrigeration is critical at every step of the journey from

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CityBites / Spring 2014

boat to table, because the quality of fish declines faster and at lower temperatures than most other food products. This means the average refrigeration temperatures that keep a broad spectrum of foods safe, including sensitive vegetables, are likely not low enough for fish, which should be stored at close to 0°C. Once seafood is “landed,” it commonly takes another three to five days for the fish to get trucked from the coast to central Canada and on to retailers and restaurants. Do the math and you discover fish touted as having arrived fresh that day may be 10 days old. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Advances in shipping and refrigeration ensure that the quality of the fish is largely maintained. However, it does pose a marketing problem and brings into question the credibility of the fish outlet. Digital innovations that continue to bring greater transparency to everything we purchase from paper to T-shirts are also exposing the truth about fish. Traceability programs such as ThisFish, a technology developed by Ecotrust Canada, tag individual fish as they are landed. The tag records the date, time and location of the catch, along with

TAGGED For your peace of mind.

the name of the vessel and the type of gear used to catch the fish. As long as the tags remain with the fish, the consumer will be able to see the date of catch on their smartphone or computer. The questions now are, will retailers embrace this opportunity for transparency and are consumers ready to learn that their fish is perfectly good, even if it’s older than they thought? CB DAN DONOVAN is a graduate of the Stratford Chef School and a veteran of the Toronto restaurant scene. He and his wife Kristin run Hooked (hookedinc.ca), Toronto’s only seafood retailer 100% committed to sustainability.


EXPERTS // GROW

By Marc Green

Veggie garden head start A THRIVING VEGETABLE GARDEN STARTS RIGHT NOW INDOORS WITH THESE SIMPLE STEPS “Hello, this is Spring calling. I’m sorry, but I’ll be a little late this year.” Yeah, we noticed. Still, no matter the weather, this is the perfect time to start your veggie seedlings in the comfort of your home. Granted, we in the GTA are blessed with wonderful organic farmers and growers who will do it for us. But the sheer joy of bringing a plant to life is the perfect remedy for even the worst winter hangover. So get out those colourful seed catalogues and dig in. It’s easier than you think.

PHOTO: MARC GREEN

Why not try something that will jazz up your garden and look pretty on your plate? Many vegetable seeds—radishes, lettuces, spinach, chard, kale, peas and beans, for example—can be planted right into the soil of your garden (as long as its not still frozen). However, plants like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, broccoli and some herbs have a longer growing season requiring an indoor head start. Start by getting your kit together, including organic potting mix, trays of one-inch seedling cells, plant trays inside which the cell trays will nestle, and a clear plastic dome to help keep the humidity

consistent. You’ll need a light source, too, of course. A sunny window is good, but a grow light is better. All of this can be found at any of our city’s top-notch hydroponics stores. Next, buy your seeds from one of the fantastic local seed suppliers who have taken the Safe Seed Pledge and only sell non-GMO product. There are many varieties, colours, shapes and sizes to choose from, so why not try something that will jazz up your garden and look pretty on your plate? A good quality organic potting mix is great for moisture retention, but it’s best to mix in something that ups the nutritional content, such as well-composted (organic) manure, or, best of all, an organic product called Better World Plant Food made of 100 percent beetle castings (a.k.a. beetle poop). Fill the seedling cells with the mixture and plant one or two seeds per cell. How deep? The general rule of thumb is two to four times the diameter of the seed. Gently water the seedlings, cover them with the clear plastic dome and place in a warm room. Light won’t be required until the seed germinates, meaning when the first growth appears above the soil surface. If using a grow light, place the plants carefully—too close and you risk heat from the bulbs burning the seedlings, too far and the seedlings will stretch upward to the light and get too tall too fast, making them weak and skinny, or “leggy.” Water

SMALL FRY Some plants need an indoor start.

regularly but don’t overdo it; too much water will result in “damping off” where the stems get waterlogged and rotten. Keep air circulating with a fan to strengthen the stems and help prevent disease. When the plants develop four leaves it’s time to transplant them into bigger pots. This adds another boost of nutrition and space for the developing roots. Your plants may be shocked at first but soon will love you for it. This step can be repeated again into even larger pots in another few weeks. By mid-May they can be “hardened off,” or gradually introduced to the great outdoors. If you start now, by the time the May 24 weekend arrives, your seedlings will be ready for planting in your garden—unless it’s still snowing. CB MARC GREEN AND ARLENE HAZZAN GREEN own The Backyard Urban Farm Company. BUFCO brings organic vegetable gardening to urban and sub-urban homes and businesses throughout the GTA. Visit bufco.ca.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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EXPERTS // THE EJ

By Konrad Ejbich | @WineZone

Tales from the tasting room Our friend, let’s call her Jan, comes every year from Calgary to visit us in Toronto. She loves to shop for shoes; go to interesting new restaurants, exhibits, and shows; and to drink up as much of my cellar as she can (or so she thinks). Her taste in shoes and clothes is expensive. Meeting friends over food is always on the agenda. But when it comes to wine, despite her good taste and adventurous spirit, Jan is stuck on Pinot Grigio. In Calgary her go-to wine is VOGA Pinot Grigio (General List #669226, $14.75 in Ontario) but since I didn’t have

any, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (Vintages #106450, $17.95) did the trick. Both are well made, with good body, crisp, lemony flavours and a clean, disappearing finish. Over the years, we have introduced her to other varieties and styles, with limited success. She has taken to sipping good Beaujolais with chicken and ripe BC Pinot Noir with steak, but is still struggling with the edgier varieties. Last weekend, Jan and my better half drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake to Reif Winery to take in a reading by East-Coast author Donna Morrissey from her newest book, The Deception of Livvy Higgs. The next morning, before returning to the city, they decided to visit a few local wineries. At Southbrook Vineyards, the women discovered the only whites on the tasting menu were Chardonnays. When they

asked whether there were any other white wines to sample, the person behind the counter expressed surprise and offered to pour “something special.” From the smell alone, my wife immediately identified the mystery wine as another Chardonnay, which seemed to put out the sales clerk whose “trick” didn’t work. Later, a Sauvignon Blanc was offered and Jan grimaced. She was advised to take a second taste and was told she would like it for sure. Nope. “She shook her head, frowned at me and gave me a look like I didn’t know anything,” Jan told me later. She felt diminished. My wife was appalled. Up the road, at Stratus, the experience was unsatisfying in a different way. The women wandered through the tasting room, glancing occasionally at the lone salesperson, who was having a long conversation with a customer, as if they were old friends. After several minutes, the women headed for the exit. “We were almost out the door when he finally acknowledged our existence,” Jan recalled. “‘No thanks,’ we said and left without tasting a thing.” Next door at Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, a pleasant, helpful, funny guy named Graham greeted them at the door, invited them into the tasting room and began exploring their likes and dislikes as he walked them through a series of tastings. They sampled a few varieties, venturing this time into reds and bubblies.

• custom design & build • Premier Cru kit racks • wine coolers & accessories 32

CityBites / Spring 2014 RWC_CB_QP.indd 1

“Graham was delightful,” said Jan. “In fact, I bought more than I intended.” What’s more surprising is that she also purchased several bottles to take home to Alberta that were a real stretch for her Pinot Grigio-only palate. A petillant Chardonnay Musqué, a floral, honeyed Gewurztraminer and a couple of big reds. The experience was not just a lesson in wine tasting, it was a testament to the fact that it’s not just what’s in the glass that matters. A guide who is unpretentious and has a friendly, open attitude can make all the difference in a novice taster’s (read, customer’s) receptiveness and overall experience. It can also make a big difference to a winery’s bottom line: three wineries, one sale. CB KONRAD EJBICH is an author, columnist, photo/ video-journalist, and host/ producer of Pro & Kon on YouTube. Follow him on @WineZone.

your wine deserves the very best home 416.285.6604

.

RosehillWineCellars.com

.

established 1995

13-03-04 5:53 PM

PHOTO: INGIMAGE.COM

A VISIT TO SOME WINERIES YIELDS WILDLY DIFFERENT TASTING EXPERIENCES


EXPERTS // LIBATIONS

By Stephen Beaumont | @CityBitesBooze + @BeaumontDrinks

The top blended whiskies you need to know THE WORKHORSES OF THE WHISKY WORLD ARE WILDLY DIFFERENT IN CHARACTER, AND SUITED TO DIFFERENT PURPOSES In the world of Scottish whiskies, single malts are the undisputed beauty queens, the ones art directors put on magazine covers, sophisticates collect like high-priced bubble-gum cards and writers describe in rapturous, sensualized prose. Blends, on the other hand, are the workhorses, passed around at parties, knocked back straight or mixed with soda or cola, and generally treated with all the respect afforded bog-standard vodka or rum. Lighter in body than single malts, owing to a significant proportion of grain whisky, they also represent more than 90 percent of global Scotch whisky sales. While blends sometimes rise to the exalted level of single malts—usually in special packages or bearing age statements that place them well past puberty—mostly they are regarded as undeserving of detailed analysis. This is precisely why I wanted to take a closer look at a few of the most popular. Could any of these unpretentious, standard-priced spirits challenge the

You should choose your blend based on how you intend to drink it sipping supremacy of the single malt? The half-dozen blended whiskies chosen on the basis of LCBO availably, name recognition and global ubiquity were: Dewar’s White Label ($24.95 for a 750 mL at the LCBO), Teacher’s Highland Cream ($24.95); Grant’s Family Reserve ($26.95); Johnnie Walker Red Label ($29.95); The PHOTO: STEPHEN BEAUMONT

Famous Grouse ($30.05); and Chivas Regal 12 Years Old ($49.95). While Chivas is undeniably the “luxury” brand in the group, I figured it merited inclusion on the basis of its wide availability and the fact that even its elevated price is not much more than half that of most single malts. To start, I blind tasted all six whiskies neat

BLENDED WHISKIES Great value at a fraction of the cost of single malts.

from Glencairn whisky glasses. (If you’ve never used a Glencairn glass, they’re well worth investigating at whiskyglass.ca.) While none beat a single malt for sipping sans ice or soda, the aroma of Chivas did separate itself from the rest, with a lovely balance between delicate florals, citrus and sweet caramel. Teacher’s was the smokiest by degrees and nosed most like a single malt, while Grant’s was the sweetest and Johnnie Walker the zestiest. On the palate, the Chivas again rose above the pack with a gentle complexity leading to a fruity-smoky finish, followed closely this time by the tropical fruit and citrus of Dewar’s. Teacher’s again showed the most dense malt character and smokiness. Johnnie Walker presented a lovely, gingery spiciness, especially on the finish, Grant’s was the roundest and most caramelly and Famous Grouse showed an appetizing mix of fruit, chocolate, caramel and gentle peatiness. Tasted several hours later, again blind but this time mixed in a 1:3 ratio with Canada Dry Soda Water, a significantly different picture emerged.

The relatively complex character of Famous Grouse, which seemed a bit murky neat, absolutely shone when mixed with soda, presenting a mix of citrus, vanilla, dried fruit and smoke that both satisfied and refreshed. The delicate Chivas, on the other hand, seemed a bit waterlogged, and Johnnie Walker developed a bit of a smoky sharpness not noted straight. Teacher’s continued to show its malty, smoky pedigree, while Dewar’s presented probably the most purely refreshing drink and Grant’s offered the sweetest and most palatable flavour for entry-level whisky drinkers. In the end, I concluded that the blend you choose should be dependent on how you intend to drink it, and that sometimes you really do get what you pay for. Whisky aficionados who disparage blends do a disservice to themselves, the spirits, and, ultimately, their own pocketbooks. CB STEPHEN BEAUMONT tweets about beer and spirits for CityBites under the handles @CityBitesBeer and @CityBitesBooze. He also sounds off on his own at @BeaumontDrinks.

Spring 2014 / CityBites

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ONE LAST BITE

By Natalie Goldenberg-Fife | @NatalieGF + @CityBites

Gio Rana’s really really nice restaurant Est. 1989

FAMILY STYLE Gio Rana’s middle daughter Margio Rana with chef Tito Balderramo; vintage Gio in a newspaper insert; the venerable nose.

Over the past 25 years Gio Rana and “The Nose” have travelled from the Beaches to uptown, and then back east in 2000 to an old bank space in Leslieville. The original two restaurants were named Gio’s Italian Food, but were—more often than not—referred to as “The Nose.” Back in the Beaches days, Gio had to defend in court the right to show his nose—it is indeed a replica of his nose—because of complaints that it was too phallic. The restaurant has always been a no-bullshit kind of place. The most famous dish is the involtini, a simply but deadly coupling of pulled-pork wrapped in a thin slice of ribeye. Gio says dinner at his restaurant is like enjoying a no-fuss Do expect to eat and drink a lot—and to have a few laughs. Gio says the Leslieville location got its name from his youngest daughter Talia. When she was 5, she kept saying “daddy this restaurant is really, really nice.” 1220 Queen St E, 416-469-5225

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CityBites / Spring 2014

PHOTOS: SIMONE SAUNDERS

Italian meal in his Nonna’s basement. Don’t expect fancy.


Wine & Music. The perfect pairing.

SAM ROBERTS BAND June 13 & 14

JESSE COOK July 5

ALAN DOYLE July 11

CHANTAL KREVIAZUK

COLIN JAMES July 19

July 12 niagara

Flagship Event JUSTIN RUTLEDGE & LINDI ORTEGA

July 26

FOOD DAY CANADA August 2

STARS August 9

COWBOY JUNKIES August 16

NIAGARA JAZZ FESTIVAL

ARKELLS September 5

August 23

Join us in our outdoor Amphitheatre for an unsurpassed combination of renowned Canadian talent, light fare and premium, award-winning estate wines. To order tickets visit our website jacksontriggswinery.com Contact our box office at 1.866.589.4637 Dates and artists are subject to change without notice. Please contact us for specific performance details. Please enjoy responsibly.

Issue 50 - Spring 2014  

Welcome to our 50th issue! We celebrate the icons of Toronto—the top chefs and restaurants that have helped make the city a vertiable wonder...

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