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| FREE | (Early) Spring 2011

Special Issue

Spice World Hot stuff to zap your ’buds!

Rising Stars! 3 Pastry Chefs to Watch Toronto’s Best Foodie News!   Sweet Wine Secrets by John Szabo

Plus! Cookbooks + New Eateries + Schnitzel + Ginger Beer

Discover Flat Roof Manor Wines....

A Perfect Match with Pan Asian cuisine at Spring Rolls.


Dried peach and apricot on the nose, with a hint of litchi. On the palate, the emphasis is on the fruit with flavours of peaches, apricots and a dash of litchi.



“A seductive white, good to sip on its own, versatile with all kinds of food.” - Gordon Stimmell, The Toronto Star

Try Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio with Satay Chicken Mango Salad


This 100% Merlot offers a bouquet of fresh berries dominated by raspberry and mulberry. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity with spicy tannins and a silky finish.



“Very tasty...tons of friendly flavour and poise, especially for the price” - Gordon Stimmell, The Toronto Star Flat Roof Manor Merlot pairs perfectly with our Grilled Salmon & Mango Salsa.

Represented by PMA Canada Ltd. Please Enjoy Responsibly.

From the editor I’ve been lucky of late. I’ve had three meals this past month that put a smile on my face. The first was the signature item at The Burger’s Priest in Leslieville. The second was a Peking duck reinvented at a pre-opening dinner at Lee Lounge, Susur Lee’s new take on the old Madeline’s space. The third was at Sneaky Dee’s, where a plate of bar-style chicken wings just plain made me happy. Where there’s joy in food, there’s always excellence. And it feels like a surge in the food scene right now, a lot of energy and ideas, and great places to eat, shop, cook, etc. CityBites is pleased to once again partner with the Salut Wine + Food Festival, now in its third year celebrating excellence and bringing innovative food experiences to Toronto. We’re also active with Terroir, an incredible hospitality industry conference that’s happening the day this magazine goes to print, so we’ll have to tell you about it next time. Terroir is celebrating five years in 2011, and just keeps growing. Events like these bring the city’s food scene its vital focus, on quality, innovation, ideas and just pure joy. Which reminds me of my fourth

contents (Early) Spring 2011

Volume 7, Issue 1

smile-inspiring meal—an east-meets-west feast at Senses in the SoHo Metropolitan. Patrick Lin, the man’s sublime.

Features >> Sugar and Spice

Dick Snyder, Editor •


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


Sweet Young Things Meet Toronto’s rising pastry chefs.


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

Editor Dick Snyder/ Art Director Craig Sinclair/ Associate Editor Signe Langford Wine Editor John Szabo


Artisanal salt invades Toronto.

Chicken Wings Rating Toronto’s top wing joints (and some not-so-top).

Director of Vinous Affairs Zoltan Szabo

Regular Bites

Contributors Stephen Beaumont, Greg Clow, Sara d’Amato, Sean


Starters A new fish shop; Susur abroad; Le Creuset goes green.


Crumbs Hot spots, new spots, dead spots.

Deasy, Tracey Edelist, Konrad Ejbich, Maia Filar, Arlene Hazzan Green, Marc Green, Tracy Howard, Heather Li, Joy McCarthy, Mary Luz Mejia, Stephen Temkin, Julie C. Trubkin Photography Jeff Coulson, Signe Langford, Julie C. Trubkin Publisher Paul Alsop/ Sr. Account Manager Wendy Lyall Gardner/ Account Manager Alexander McCarthy/

Subscriptions are $25 per year. Email or visit

photo: jeff coulson

20 The Joy of Salt


Just Opened Eating out tonight? Try one of these two new restaurants.



The Gourmudgeon For the love of schnitzel. Pantry A vision of ginger, in ales and beers.

Advertising Inquiries

City Bites Media Inc., 24 Dalhousie St. Suite 200,

10 Foreign Correspondence

Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5, 647-827-1705. City Bites is published six times a year by City Bites Media Inc., a division of IDMG Inc. IDMG Management Paul Alsop, Donald G. House IDMG Partner Dick Snyder



Fresh Sugaring off with our favourite sweet viscous liquid.


Books Read ’em and eat!

14 Reality Check


Wondering where the goodness went. In store Superior olive oil and easy-make risotto.

23 Libations

Stephen Beaumont proffers his porter picks.

24 The Ej

Where’s the “O”, wonders Konrad Ejbich, in LCBO.

Big sandwiches from three countries.

25 Szabo on Wine

The Urban Farmer Tricking nature into giving you salad.

26 One Last Bite

his sweet on.

John Szabo gets

A spoonful of sugar.

Cover photo by Jeff Coulson (Early) Spring 2011


The Best Food & Drink Celebration in Town!

March 18-20, 2011 International Centre Sip, Savour & Enjoy! 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! FRIDAY & SATURDAY: Noon -10PM SUNDAY: Noon - 6PM Sat. night tickets for ladies $12 at the door. SPONSORED BY GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT WINES.

Food Network presents Chuck Hughes

International Centre presents “Savour Local”

Iron Chef America Competitor and host of Chuck’s Day Off on Food Network. Join Chuck at the Bosch Sip & Savour Stage on Saturday for live cooking demonstrations.

Sit in with International Centre’s award-winning Executive Chef Joe Levesque as he partners with drink experts to pair delectable food with wine, beer and specialty cocktails all sourced from local producers.

Exclusive Wine Events

Patrón Spirits Mixology Competition

Plan to attend one of the exclusive and interactive wine events for an evening of great food and wine pairings.

Kevin Brauch, The Thirsty Traveler hosts the Patrón Spirits, Annual Bartender Competition! Watch & taste the excitement Sunday from 1 to 3 pm.

Wave 94.7 Stage

Sign up at

Relax and enjoy daily live performances on the Wave 94.7 Smooth Groove Stage. All included with your admission.

Scan your favourite wines at the show to create a personal shopping list. Plus! Scan this code for a special offer before the show!

Free shuttle to and from Kipling Station. For public transit info visit us online. Admission Restricted to 19+. PLEASE DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE

For more information on ticket and wine event prices, directions and promotions: Call 1-800-693-7986 or visit us at

the starters The Happy Hooker By Signe Langford

photos: (fennel) Courtesy Le Creuset; (susur) Doug Wallace; (lobster) © yellowj -

Leslieville nets a unique fish boutique Here’s the story of Toronto’s newest, hippest and ocean-friendliest fish shop. “So I called up Fergus Henderson,” begins chef and former front-of-house man Dan Donavan. That’s Fergus—the delightfully eccentric British high priest of nose-to-tail eating, chef-owner of Michelin-starred St. John in London, and best-selling cookbook author—Henderson. Donovan asked his buddy what makes the best of the UK’s fish shops so much better than our own. The man set up a tour. Dan went, saw, learned—and now he’s Hooked opened Hooked in Leslieville. Hooked is an official partner of the Ocean 888 Queen St. E. Wise program. Every critter on ice will be sustainable and as local as can be, 416-828-1861 from Canada and the US. “You won’t see any mahi mahi, European Note: call ahead to ensure store is open! bream, or anything pulled from Mediterranean waters here.” “I’ll be carrying some line-caught albacore tuna from Oregon and bass from Maryland, and I might get my hands on some octopus from Hawaii, but that’s as exotic as we’re going to get.” Donovan knows a thing or two about eco-friendly fish having racked up many years with the king and queen of local and sustainable, chefs Jamie Kennedy and Tobey Nemeth. And he has some lofty goals. Getting us off farmed salmon and tilapia, for one. Come to think of it, that’d be enough right there!

The CityBites Team Jeff Coulson >> Photographer Ever since Jeff was a kid, cameras have called his name. “My parents would give me instant cameras to keep me from sneaking off with theirs.” He’s crazy for dogs (“dogs own me”), cars (“I’m a guy”) and food! He’s thrilled to be able to combine his passion for food with his love of photography. His dream is to do that in India. Marc Green >> Urban Farmer Marc Green opted out of our throwaway society and landfill lifestyle in 2009, founding the The Backyard Urban Farm Co. with wife Arlene Hazzan Green. He gave up his location-scouting career to go, ahem, green. Now, armed with a great eye (Honours BFA from York University), Marc designs, installs and maintains organic vegetable gardens at homes, schools and business., Joy McCarthy >> Reality Check Joy is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and real-food advocate with a weakness for

Only sustainably obtained items—like this East Coast lobster—grace the board at Hooked.

Sun, Surf, Sand—and Susur! At the third annual Cayman Cookout hosted by celeb Chef Eric Ripert, a weekend of culinary bliss at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in January, Toronto’s Susur Lee added a Canadian edge to the team of heavy-hitters. He managed to maintain his trademark unassuming air, though surrounded by a sea of chef bravado in the form of some fairly large personalities: Charlie Trotter, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Rachel Allen and Michael Schwartz, among others. Lee hosted a Beach Fusion demo and contributed to two stellar gala dinners. “I learned a lot of things here,” he said, “especially how amazing the coconut oil is.” Visit

— Doug Wallace

Go Green

Fennel is the new hue on Le Creuset’s line of cookware ($15 – $385).

homemade apple crisp with organic full-fat ice cream. She enjoys the challenge of converting an otherwise artery clogging meal into one that is delicious and nutritious. When she’s not at her practice, Joyous Health, cooking, or shopping at her favourite farmers’ market, she can be found on a yoga mat, running or riding her bike. Follow her,


Fraser Rieche was misidentified in last issue’s article “Eco-caviar.” He is the special projects manager for Calkins and Burke. The company’s Coho caviar is not Ocean Wise certified. In the same issue, the Yorkville restaurant Hemingways was misspelled. The correct URL is

Get in touch!

Susur does demo at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.

Send emails to or snail mail to CityBites, 24 Dalhousie St., Toronto, ON, M5B 2A5. Letters may be edited for space and accuracy. (Early) Spring 2011


By Greg Clow

News you can eat ... It’s hardly news to anyone

the Entertainment District, in the midst of

... Grant Van Gameren and Jen Agg

surprised pretty much everyone when they announced the

who has been paying

end-of-February closure of Hoof Café, the successful across-the-

attention to local food media— or any local media, for that

street offshoot of their still booming Black Hoof, but the shock

matter: Susur Lee finally

was tempered by news that the space will be reopened in April

opened his long-awaited

as Black Hoof & Company (923 Dundas St. W., 416-792-7511,


Lee Lounge (601 King St. W.,, an 18-seat, tasting-menu-only restaurant on Valentine’s Day

Food blogs that become books and movies are one thing, but

... Also long-awaited, the

how about one that becomes a restaurant? That’s what’s happened to 416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst St., 416-364-9320,

new location of Salad King, a blog about tasty ethnic snack

(340 Yonge St., 416-971-7041, is open and

foods that is now a bar serving tasty ethnic snack foods


serving up Thai favourites like

Chef Rodney Bowers has returned from being a reality show

the classic Evil Jungle Prince

star to act as consulting chef at The Gabardine (372 Bay St.,

... Rustic Italian was definitely

647-352-3211,, where his former sous Graham Pratt is overseeing a menu of comfort food faves

one of the biggest trends in has brought back dinner service, with a constantly

2010, and that trend has

changing chalkboard menu and more than a dozen VQA wines by

renewed vigour in 2011 with Briscola Trattoria (501 College St., 416-964-1555,, Parkette (874 Queen St. W., 416-536-3883,, Black Skirt (974 College St.,, and Sugo Trattoria (582 Church St., 416-929-9108, all offering their takes on Nonna-style cooking

... Oh Boy! Burger Market (571 Queen St. W.)

has closed, with the space soon to hold a new gastropub from chef Paul Boehmer

... After a bit of a

break and a few renos, Gilead Café (4 Gilead Place, 647-288-0680,

Toronto’s restaurant scene in

... Speaking of burgers, the most expensive one

the glass

... Carlos Hernandez (ex-Torito) has opened Inigo

(927 Queen St. W., 416-645-6707), a take out spot across from Trinity Bellwoods Park (in the former space of Igor’s Stolen Bikes) serving up Portuguese-style roast chicken and a few other specialities

... Hipster-approved restaurant and hangout Oddfellows

(936 Queen St. W.) has closed so the owners can concentrate on their other projects, including Parts and Labour and Castor

... Former Prego Della Piazza chef Faro Chiniforoush has

in town—a $100 monstrosity of a stunt burger that features Kobe


beef, foie gras, truffles and more stuff—is on the menu alongside

returned to Yorkville at the helm of Sorrel (84 Yorkville Ave.,

a number of more reasonably priced options at Montreal-based m:brgr (401 King St. W., 647-729-1747,

... Local restaurant

titan Oliver & Bonacini is expanding their empire beyond the GTA with new partnership deals that will see them take on food operations at high-end Muskoka resort Windermere House (2508 Windermere Rd., Windermere, 888-946-3376,, and flagship locations of The Bay all across Canada, including Toronto’s Queen Street

... Nuit & Jeff Regular of renowned Thai hole-in-the-wall Sukhothai

have opened a much larger and flashier establishment, Khao San Road


(326 Adelaide St. W., 647-352-5773,


416-926-1010,, where many ex-Prego staff have joined him

... Just down the block, Dynasty Chinese Cuisine

(69 Yorkville Ave., 416-923-3323, is back after the late-2010 closure of its original location in The Colonnade

... And proving that

trendy hot spots don’t stay hot forever, glitter-magnet Lobby has been replaced by a Gabby’s (192 Bloor St. W., 416-967-5550,

GREG CLOW is the co-publisher, news editor, beer writer and head dishwasher at Taste T.O. (tasteto. com), a website that reports on anything and everything to do with food and drink in Toronto.

photo: Marc Polidoro


just opened

By Signe Langford

photos: (left) Signe Langford; (right) Robert Oddi

Ceno Restaurant

Aravind Some restaurants take a long time to open. This one took 3000 years. Take out your history and geography scribblers. Southern India’s Kerala state has been an important a hub for Mediterranean spice traders since the 13th century. It’s home to a unique fusion cuisine, having felt influences from China, northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Aravind Kozhikott—after 10 years working front of house at, most recently, Bite Me, Conviction and Earth—has shifted his dad out of retirement to help with his project. This is Keralan cuisine fused with Ontario farm-tofork. Fish moli is Lake Huron pickerel-meets-masala. A classic Canadian winter salad of root vegetable ribbons is tossed with a lemon chaat vinaigrette—all complemented by the VQAheavy wine list.

You don’t need to have actually ordered a Prosecco for one to be thrust into your hand on arrival at Ceno. Apparently that’s hello in Italian. The restaurant is the first project for two industry vets, Silvio Spano and Chef Mario Feola. They’ve slicked it up and pared it down. In minimalist shades of steel blue-grey, chocolate brown and white linen, the simple room properly takes a back seat to the rich, colourful and sometimes just a little bit over-the-top menu. Second Chef Bruno Soleri is a shameless lover of excess. He’s the man behind an innocent-sounding appetizer of truffled potatoes. Order it up, and what arrives is both wonderfully simple and beyond decadent, a mountain of truffle-and-parmigiano infused whipped cream hiding a perfectly poached and salted potato. 137 Avenue Rd., 647-352-8822,

596 Danforth Ave., 647-346-2766,

(Early) Spring 2011


the gourmudgeon

By Stephen Temkin

A Schnitzelhaus is a Happy Haus No one is exactly sure where or when the schnitzel originated. But sometime around the 15th or 16th century, somewhere in that part of Europe that extends from Bavaria to northern Italy and from Switzerland to Hungary, someone pounded a piece of tough meat flat, coated it with the crumbs of stale bread and fried it in hot fat until crisp and brown. The cry of eureka has echoed ever since. Wherever its origin, the schnitzel’s modern capital is Vienna. For many, the term “wiener schnitzel,” which means Vienna schnitzel, is the default moniker. However, that is incorrect: A wiener schnitzel is made specifically from veal. In Austria, it’s not mere tradition, it’s the law. But venture into Germany and pork is routine. I’ve never been to Austria, but I’ve eaten many pounds of schnitzel in Germany. There, it is a vital part of the national identity, available in several variations. There’s Zwiebelschnitzel covered with fried

Still, I’m more of a plain schnitzel guy. After all, it is nature’s most perfect food: a sheet of protein, a coating of carbs, and a bath of hot fat. Add some form of alcohol and a postprandial cigar and you’ve covered off all the major food groups. But don’t neglect the lemon wedge— the occasional serving of fruit won’t kill you. The simplicity of the schnitzel means that making your own is fun and easy. But like all simple recipes, careful attention to content and method will make the difference between schnitzel nirvana and something more akin to the bun of a Double Down. It all starts with the meat. Veal may be the iconic choice, but truth be told, it tends to be bland. Pork is better, but not tasteless factory pork. Go to a butcher who offers traditional breeds of pastured pork. The meat for a schnitzel should derive from a lean cut, ideally from a single muscle of fine, uniform grain. It should be of sufficient dimensions that it can be pounded into a substantial size. After pounding, it should be no thicker than a quarter inch, otherwise it onions; Rahmschnitzel served with a cream loses its essential schnitzelocity. sauce; Zigeunerschnitzel with its paprikaMake your own crumbs and keep it simple. laced concoction of bell peppers and onion; Reserve old heels of bread until completely Jaegerschnitzel with a brown mushroom gravy; stale and whiz them in the food processor to and so on. There are also seasonal specialties. a fine crumb. I add a small handful of medium Once, during Pfifferlinge season, I had a ground corn meal for added crunch. schnitzel smothered with sautéed chanterelles, As always, the routine is to first coat the a gilded lily if ever there was one. meat in flour, shaking off any excess, then CityBites_Oct:CityBites 9/30/10 7:09 AM Page 1

Don’t neglect the lemon wedge—the occasional fruit won’t kill you


into beaten egg (I add a bit of mustard and milk), and then into the crumbs, patting firmly. It’s crucial that every element be seasoned with salt and pepper. A greased pan will not do. Fry the schnitzel in a shallow pool of clean oil. Canola is economical and works well but is best enhanced with something more flavourful such as good olive oil, duck fat or lard. Always serve immediately. And what to drink? Well, here’s the real genius of it. From a light lager to a hearty ale, or a fresh delicate white wine to a firm, hefty red, all strut their stuff in the presence of a schnitzel. As I said, it’s nature’s most perfect food. CB When not eating, drinking, or writing about eating and drinking, Stephen Temkin makes fedoras.




Natural Food Market 416.466.2129 Wholistic Dispensary 416.466.8432 348 Danforth Avenue (1 block west of Chester subway) Monday to Friday 9:00-9:00 Saturday 9:00-8:00 Sunday 11:00-6:00



photo: © M. Schuppich -

For the love of schnitzel, try the pork


By Signe Langford

Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer Mix it up with these punch-packing brews Originating in 18th century England, true ginger beer was brewed or fermented to create the bubbles—and a whopping 11 percent alcohol, thank you very much. But not so much anymore. About a hundred years later, in the colonies, an American doctor was busy flavouring carbonated water with ginger and sugar, creating a delicious, sweet digestive aid. Later, during Prohibition, it became a favourite mixer in American and Canadian speakeasies. No longer a tipple, the stuff qualifies as ginger ale’s big brother, with some brands packing enough ginger heat to burn delicate taste buds. We’ve found five very classy ginger sodas, perfect foils for your preferred poison.

Muskoka Dry Pale Ginger Ale A cottage country exclusive for nearly 100 years. Pure and strong (oh, how terribly Canadian) it’s made from Gravenhurst spring water. $9.99/6-pack at

Fentimans Ginger Beer No one would blame you if you bought this just for the beautiful apothecary-style bottle. Inside is a properly fermented brew made from Chinese ginger root that delivers a real burn.

Cake Town Café,

$2.49/275mL at All

Fever Tree Ginger Ale Almost viscous, not overly carbonated with a medium ginger kick. Three natural gingers are used to create a mixer even whisky geeks can approve of. The lovely Old World-look bottle is a bonus.

2039 Danforth Ave.,

the Best Fine Foods,



1101 Yonge St.,

$3.89/500mL at


Fresh and Wild,


Fever Tree Ginger Beer Brewed from three types of ginger from Nigeria, Cochin and the Ivory Coast, this award-winner is not too sweet and delivers some heat.


Real Brew Outrageous Ginger Ale Spicy heat with a crazy background of smoky oak! $1.49/355mL at select Loblaws

$5.49/4-pack, $3.89/500mL at Fresh and Wild, 69 Spadina Ave.,

69 Spadina Ave., 416-979-8155

(Early) Spring 2011


foreign correspondents

By Signe Langford

Hop on the sub way From every nation, a long sandwich It’s not the classiest of foods, or the tidiest. It’s pretty basic stuff, really— a whack of deli meats, cheese, a couple of veggies (if you insist), some sauce, mayo or mustard. And there you have one of the most soul-satisfying, tummy-filling foods known to man. The submarine sandwich, or hero, or Dagwood, or muffuletta, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. By now, most know about the card-playing, greasy-fingered Earl of Sandwich. Quote: Wench, bring me my supper! And put ye meat between goodly slices of bread! It’s been open season ever since. The French stuff a baguette with butter and cheese; the folks in New Orleans deep-fry muddy warm-water oysters for a po-boy; and some of us, here anyway, make do with an “assorted” for a dose of white bread, processed cheese, and meats of questionable origin. I’ll speak for myself, but a hot cheese and veggie sub—with yellow mustard and special sauce—is on my deathbed menu. Just sayin’. Here are three variations that should give Mr. Sub pause.

California Sandwiches

California Sandwiches >> Italy The Meatball Sangwich | $6.25 Yes, it’s spelled sangwich, capish? This place is a Toronto original, with homemade Italian tomato sauce, freshly baked rolls and house-cut meats.

2474 Dufferin St. (and other locations), 416-787-5205, Rose’s Café

Rose’s Café >> Vietnam Bahn Mi | $2.99 Evidence of the tastier side of colonization, this holdover from French Indochina stuffs a baguette with barbecue pork, coriander, green onion, mayo, daikon, tofu and pickled veg.

Reggie’s Old Fashioned Sandwiches >> USA Philly Cheese Steak | $7.74 This one’s a thoroughly modern, local riff on a turn-of-the-century American classic. With peppers, onions, garlic, Rowe Farms sirloin and gooey mozzarella... Phill-a-what?

571 King St., 416-979-9992,



Reggie’s Old Fashioned Sandwiches

photos: Jeff Coulson

324 Broadview Ave., 416-406-9906

the urban farmer

By Marc Green

Spring Fling

Winter Greens Use the techniques in this article to extend the growing season on the back end, too. Install the hoops and plant cold hardy veggies in late August. Cover with the plastic as the weather

photo: Marc Green

Don’t wait for May Two-Four to start planting. Get out there now. Gardeners are an impatient lot. Especially in the dark days of winter. But short of planning a garden on paper, putting in seed orders, waiting and fantasizing, what can you do? You can start growing now, that’s what. “Season extension” is a technique that allows you to plant in late March or early April so you can be eating by mid-May, when most gardeners are only just starting to get their hands dirty. All you need is a glass garden bell jar called a cloche, which is placed over a single plant to protect it from the cold. Nice, but not very practical. More effective are hoop tunnels (clear plastic stretched out over semi-circular hoops embedded in the soil) and cold frames (a box with a hinged glass lid). Basically, miniature greenhouses. Hardy, cold resistant plants such as radishes, salad greens, kale, collard greens and spinach work well here. Off-season growing works much better in raised beds, as the soil is isolated from the surrounding frozen ground. This is vital, as the first step in getting a pre-spring start is to soften the soil using the natural heat of the sun. Place a sheet of black plastic over the soil, and anchor it with a few rocks or bricks. Remove as much snow as you can, as well as mulch leftover from fall. Over a period of two to three weeks, the black plastic will suck up heat and transfer it to the soil. You’re waiting for the top six to eight inches of soil to soften. Then it’s time to install the hoop tunnel or cold frame.

cools, and you’ll be harvesting salads and spinach in mid-November, maybe even December.

Store-bought hoop tunnels work well, or you can make your own from bamboo. An old window makes a good cold frame. And now it’s time to plant. First, amend the soil with good, rich compost, worm castings or both. Sow seeds toward the centre of the tunnel, so the curved sides won’t impede growth. There should be a fair bit of humidity inside your greenhouse, so water only occasionally.

As it gets warmer, you can prop open the cold frame, or roll back the plastic to expose the plants to fresh air and sunlight, but keep the plastic intact for the inevitable cold spell or early spring snow. Then, get ready for fresh April salads. CB Marc Green co-owns The Backyard Urban Farm Co. in Toronto. Visit

A hoop tunnel can get your sprouts going early, and keep your greens growing into winter.

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By Chef Suzanne Baby

By Mary Luz Mejia

Maple syrup The sweet taste of spring Each spring, a young Canadian’s thoughts turn to sap. Or, more correctly, syrup. That gorgeous stuff born of our venerable maple tree. Native Americans were the first to tap into the mighty maple’s possibilities. Using tomahawks, they carved incisions into trees, and used reeds or concave pieces of bark to run the sap into birch bark buckets. They poured it into hollowedout logs, added hot rocks, and—voila!—maple syrup and maple sugar. The Europeans refined the process, the biggest change coming in the 1880s with the precursor to the modern day evaporator. Canada produces 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, and it can take 30-45 litres of the watery nectar to make 1 litre of the sticky stuff. The University of Toronto’s Hart House Farm steward Steve Warren runs the sugar bush at the university’s farm in Caledon. Crowds hotly anticipated the sugaring-off day that didn’t materialize last year due to a tree cull. “We had

Gallery Grill Maple Crême Brulée 1 cup dark maple syrup • 10 large egg yolks • 1 liter 35% cream

In a saucepan over medium heat, reduce maple syrup to about 3/4 cup. Remove from heat and briskly whisk in cream—whisking well. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks to break up and very slowly add warm cream/syrup mixture to yolks while whisking constantly. Pour about 6 oz of mixture into ovenproof ramekins. Place ramekins in bain marie (roasting pan with a couple of inches of hot water, half-way up the sides of the ramekins) and cover lightly with parchment or tin foil. Poke holes so moisture can escape. Bake at 325°F for about 45 minutes or until center “bulges” when tipped. Chill until cooled completely. Sprinkle lightly to cover with white sugar. Caramelize sugar with a blowtorch. Serve immediately.

experts and engineers come out and thin the bush for us so that our trees could grow stronger. Some were too close together, others were decaying. This year, if Mother Nature cooperates, we’ll have perfect conditions for the day.” That day is planned for Saturday, March 19. “I’d say the best part for… folks is getting out of the city, hiking in the bush and enjoying our maple syrup on hot pancakes,” Warren adds. Syrup in the City If you can’t make it out, you can always swing into the Gallery Check out the Not Far From the Tree Syrup Grill at Hart House for a dish of in the City project at Chef Suzanne Baby’s exquisite U of T maple crème brulee. Or two. For information, visit farm#events.



CRUSH_citybites_springfl.indd 1 CityBites

15/02/2011 11:48:29 AM

photo: Turkey Hill


reality check

By Joy McCarthy, RD

Nutrition for dummies The wizards of Wonder make the colour and nutrients disappear

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*O sp ec of n a ia 3 m l e gl in xp ide im ire s. um * s A M w ord ar in e . 2 te r 1/ r 20 11

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Wonder+ Invisibles is the latest breed of bread designed to help parents trick kids. The website touts: “Wonder+ Invisibles bread, with 14 nutritious whole grains that are invisible to the naked eye. They are so finely ground by our special process that the bread stays white, soft and best of all—delicious.” What is this “special process” that turned 14 grains into white flour? According to Catherine Smith, assistant brand manager of WONDER+ at Weston Bakeries: “The grains used in Wonder+ Invisibles are naturally lighter in colour, so when they are milled into a powder they appear white.” Sounds too good to be true? Yep. There are various levels of grain refinement. Rule of thumb: the more refined, the whiter. And the fewer nutrients left behind. A refined grain has been stripped of its outer layer—bran, protein and germ—which contains vitamins B, C and E, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. What’s left is the starchy inner core—the stuff of white bread— and it is nutrient-void. The flour produced from those 14 whole grains is not nutrientand fibre-dense, like the grains that entered the mill before the “special process.” Honest bread should contain no more than four or five ingredients, and true wholegrain bread is beige/brown. This stuff contains more ingredients than a fast food meal— sugar/glucose-fructose, yeast, wheat gluten, soya flour, soybean and/or canola oil, salt, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, calcium propionate, vegetable monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, potassium chloride, sorbic acid, calcium carbonate, calcium sulphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride. Smart people know when enough is enough. CB

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Made in Canada

Wonder+ Invisibles: The Keyser Söze of bread.

(Early) Spring 2011



By Signe Langford

Read ’em and eat


The prose may be a tad stilted, but it’s like listening while grandma rambles on about her life through a war, imprisonment, love affairs and food. Always food. Bonus: a recipe for Marmite spaghetti. Verbatim: “With the flowers of acacia and elder my mother would make crunchy, crackling fritters, covered in icing sugar, which looked like Valencienne lace and tasted divine.” ($23.95, Vintage)

EATING ANIMALS By Jonathan Safran Foer

Essential reading for every omnivore. Expect to be shocked and horrified by little-known statistics and the cruel realities of modern meat production. You might even be put off your dinner—and that would be a good thing. Verbatim: “Consumers might notice that their chickens don’t taste quite right—how good could a drug-stuffed, disease-ridden, shitcontaminated animal possibly taste?” ($16.99, Hachette Book Group Canada)




By Laurie David and

By Deborah Cadbury

By Erica Bauermeister

Kirstin Uhreholdt

After her father abandons them, a little girl uses food to coax her mother back from the edge. Later, as a chef, she feeds the souls at her cooking school. Verbatim: “Afterward, they threw her ashes in great arcs out to the water. What only Tom knew was that each of them carried a tiny bit of her home with them that night, baked into the cake they had eaten.” ($18.50, Penguin)

Chances are good you already understand the importance of gathering around the dinner table, of what the simple act of sharing a meal means to a family’s cohesiveness, health and happiness. But perhaps there is someone in your life who doesn’t know this. They need this book. Verbatim: “The importance of dinnertime should not be underestimated, and when done well it will rock your world.” ($33.99, Hachette Book Group Canada)

A truly riveting play-byplay look at the origins— in the UK, Continental Europe and America— of the modern chocolate bar and confectionery business, from an insider. Verbatim: “The days when convenience food tended to be soup or hot eels from a street vendor were over.” ($29.95, Douglas and McIntyre)

Put your wine where the sun don’t shine. We have the greatest selection of wine cellars in the city. (What did you think we meant?) Riedel, Spiegelau Crystal and the widest variety of wine accessories are also right here. We know just what you can do with your wine, and we’re not shy about telling you.



Visit our Retail Showroom 250 The Esplanade, Courtyard Suite 104 Toronto 416-861-1331 or 1-800-268-8418


By Tracy Howard

Oil in the Family

Risotto 1-2-3

A local connection to top-quality olive oil

Chef Ferron makes rice easy

Olive oil importer Niki Tsourounakis.

How does a woman with a degree in forensic science and psychology find herself importing organic extra virgin olive oil from Crete? For 31-year-old Niki Tsourounakis, the answer is that oil and blood do mix. For years her grandfather had cultivated olive trees in the mountain village of Vlatos in western Crete, but sold the oil off in bulk to another company. When he passed away several years ago, his land was divided between Tsourounakis’s uncle and her father, who with her mother now splits the year between the nearby city Chania and Hawkesbury, Ontario. It wasn’t until a few years ago, on a trip to Vlatos, that her interest in olives turned professional. “My older brother and I were having the olive oil and we said, ‘This stuff is amazing and people here don’t appreciate what a high commodity it is in North America.’ So we decided to bring it over,” says Tsourounakis. “I had a bit of a food background, I’m a huge foodie and I love business, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ I came back and researched how to import olive oil, and my friend’s a graphic designer, so we created a label, and 18 months later, the oil [now called Vlatos] was coming on the boat.” The project is very much a family affair. “My uncle who runs the operation is also my contact for importing and exporting. It’s my direct family that harvests it. It stays in the family so we know it’s not tampered with,” she says. The oil they proudly produce is made from the first press of organically grown Tsounati olives, found only in western Crete, giving the product a unique flavour that Tsourounakis describes as light and fruity with a buttery finish. The olives are hand-picked, washed and machinepressed within eight hours to prevent oxidation. Everything is done at temperatures below 27°C to preserve nutrients. Vlatos is available at more than 20 stores and restaurants in Toronto, and Vlatos oil comes in 250 mL ($14.99), Tsourounakis is also beginning to import 500 mL ($28.90) and 750 mL ($39.95) sizes. fleur de sel collected by a woman on the Retailers include: Alex Farm Products; Butcher northern shores of Crete. As for other By Nature; Calico Café & Catering; Cheese plans, the entrepreneur’s ambitions Boutique; Leslieville Cheese Market; The are both simple and daunting. “I see Mercantile; Organic Boutique; Scheffler’s companies that start off with ideas that Deli & Cheese; Sun Valley Fine Foods; are wholesome, but then they kind of Thin Blue Line; Noah’s Natural Foods. lose it. I just want to keep providing For a full list of shops, visit 100-percent quality.”

photo: Niki Tsourounakis

Where to get it

By Maia Filar

Italian chef Gabriele Ferron wants to save us all from the labour of risotto. His is the fifth generation to head up the family company, Ferron, and so he seems to carry an unparalleled passion for the grain. Chef Ferron travels to Toronto frequently to demonstrate the purity and ease of use of his products. Ferron has created a career around rice, with a production company, two restaurants and an academy, which he hopes to extend to Toronto. This month he’ll be doing demonstrations at the Wine and Cheese Show. “Rice is filling, satisfying, but also so basic, so day-to-day,” he said at his last local appearance, a lunch a Grano based around his products. Carnaroli rice is big and long and has a cerulean colour, while Vialone Nano is a semi-fine, medium-sized round grain.

Ferron preserves the tradition, using restructured versions of the original machinery that was built on his family’s land in 1650 The first course, a Risotto con Basilico and Parmiggiano Reggiano, started with toasting some Vialone in extra virgin olive oil, then adding the broth and covering for about 15 minutes. That’s right, you just leave it there, bubbling, without stirring the rice even once! The result was inspired. Ferron preserves the traditional way of processing, using restructured versions of the original machinery that were built on his family’s land in 1650 and represent the oldest functioning whitening equipment in Italy. His products extend into pasta, polenta and flour. “I have spearheaded a sort of revolution in my country,” he says, which includes a deep involvement in the Slow Food movement. And therein lies the Risotto Up Close dichotomy: 15-minute Catch Gabriele Ferron at risotto, so you can the Wine & Cheese Show spend more time living! from March 18 to 20. Info at Ferron products are imported by F. Alonzi Wines and Spirits and can be purchased at Pusateri’s Fine Foods, Monastery Bakery & Delicatessen, Harvest Wagon and Totera Fine Foods. (Early) Spring 2011


Spice world By Signe Langford

With more than a sprinkling of spice shops, Toronto’s thyme is now

Selsi Sea Rocks

This tiny booth in the basement of St. Lawrence Market may have started out with only one product—salt, for food and for bath—but over time the inventory has grown to encompass herbs, spices and homemade infused salts. The emphasis is on organic and seasonal items such as rare, fresh, green Vietnamese peppercorns and the deadly hot and hardto-find Ghost Salt (see p. 20 for more).

The Spice Trader

Looking like an apothecary from Little House on the Prairie, this beautiful shop specializes in organic herbs and spices. Collections are elegantly packaged in vintage-style tins. Bonus: The Olive Pit, with its endless supply of exotic global oils, is just down a set of stairs. 877 Queen St., W., 647-430-7085, House of Spice

Arz Fine Foods and Bakery

This full-on grocery store, deli and café is always bustling. It might be the unbelievably fresh—seriously, still warm and soft as a pillow—bags of pita bread, or it might be the crazy selection of great produce. You’ll find jars of Middle Eastern wonders and walls of earthy herbs and spices: za’atar, ground thyme, sumac, saffron, cumin (everything that just begs for lamb).

St. Lawrence Market, Lower Level, 93 Front St.,

Flying no particular flag, this shop carries herbs and spices from every corner of the globe. A Kensington Market fixture since 1971, this one-stop shop is rounded out with teas, coffees, hot sauces and other condiments.

1909 Lawrence Ave., E, 416-755-5084,


190 Augusta Ave., 416-593-9724, Koohinor

Brightly coloured traditional baskets—used as dinner platters—are stacked about, as are big, open sacks of spices. Bags of freshly made injera—think Ethiopian roti bread—sit on shelves beside little tubs of the pre-packaged spices and legume flours, which are essential to Ethiopian cuisine.

Outside—winter or summer both—is a ramshackle display of exotic, sometimes downright mysterious, fruits and veggies. Inside, every spice you could ever possibly need to cook curry at home. Impossibly bushy and bright coriander, fresh methi or fenugreek leaves, sulphurous black salt and a few good quality commercial curry blends.

160 Baldwin St., 416-598-3014

1438 Gerrard St. E., 416-461-4432

Ethiopian Spice Store

Selsi Sea Rocks



photos: (top) jeff coulson; (bottom) Sara d’Amato

Empires were built on the stuff. Wars fought, worlds discovered, cultures created and destroyed, endless journeys across land and sea made—all for the want and love of spice. Those days are behind us now. Although, like the chocolate and coffee trades, abuses and even slavery still lurk in the dark recesses of the spice trade. Thankfully, we now have the good people at Fair Trade to keep an eye out for us, and the farthest we have to travel to buy—mostly guilt-free—a jar of pepper or pinch of nutmeg is to the nearest market. We’ve rounded up six spice shops that bring the world to Toronto—one crystal, flake, seed and nut at a time.

Sugar & Spice

By Julie C. Trubkin

Sweet Young Things Three fast-rising pastry chefs Sifting and rolling, filling and tempering, measuring and perfecting, all before daybreak. Why would one choose to do this? Well, a disproportionate love for all things pastry, for one. That’s what drives this collection of young on-the-rise pastry chefs.

Stefanie Bishop Home: Woodlot Restaurant & Bakery Specialty: Tarts and preserves Obsession: “I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. Every time I go out for dinner, I ask to see the dessert menu first so I know whether I should fill up or not.”

At Woodlot, Bishop applies her experience with savoury delights to her signature dish: the daily quiche ($3). On the day we visit, it’s Fontina cheese, wild mushroom and chive. She especially loves summer produce but “whatever is in season, I like to turn it into a tart.” By age 27, Bishop had apprenticed at the French Laundry in Yountville with Michelin-star chef Thomas Keller, as well as renowned B.C. pastry chef Thomas Haas and celebrity chef Daniel Boulud. For two years, she sold her own pastries and preserves at Covent Garden Market in London while also working at artisan cheese-making farm, C’est Bon Cheese Limited in St. Mary’s. A chance meeting with chef David Haman, co-owner of Woodlot, led her to the pastry post at what is currently the hottest table in town.

kent lin Home: Frank Restaurant at the AGO Specialty: Viennoiserie, the art of croissant-making Obsession: “I try to make a baguette every day I have off to perfect it, each time changing it up a little bit.”

AGO executive chef Anne Yarymowich calls Lin’s croissants “the best outside of France.” This self-described jack-of-all trades refers to his craft as a “labour-of-love career” and he’s currently studying artisanal bread-making with David Wilson at Oliver & Bonacini while working full-time at the AGO. Lin’s interest in pastry began at Danforth Tech and over the past five years he’s worked with Christophe Measson (AGO), Thierry Schmitt (Patisserie La Cigogne) and Marc Thobor (Thobors Boulangeire Patisserie and Cafe). Lin says dessert is “about making someone smile.” And his butter croissant ($2.75) delivers. Try one on Frank Restaurant’s brunch menu, as well as at caféAGO, Espresso Bar and the Member’s Lounge.

brain palanik Home: Café Belong at Evergreen Brick Works Specialty: Crème brulée and chocolate chip cookies Obsession: “I love taking savoury and making sweet, like making a chocolate paté, or a play on oysters, using lychee jelly and white chocolate

photos: Julie C. Trubkin

for the filling in an actual oyster shell.”

Café Belong’s head chef Brad Long laughs that he’s “tried to screw Palanik up by forcing him to use all organic and local ingredients.” But Palanik sees it as an added benefit to his playful approach with food. After his baking teachers pushed him on the pastry path, he attended George Brown College Chef School and completed a four-year patisserie apprenticeship at the CN Tower and Pangaea. Currently, the Brick Works staff and tenants serve as guinea pigs for various concoctions, such as chai tea or rosemary ice cream. The café, opening in April, will include breads, cakes, pastries and a deli counter. Till then, the public can sample Palanik’s breakfast, hot chocolate and stews at the Brick Works’ Saturday farmer’s market—and take in some skating too. (Early) Spring 2011



By Signe Langford

Slice by Karim Rashid

With the kind of sensuous lines you might expect in a Henry Moore, this dual-chambered mill with ceramic grinders also comes in polished chrome. $129.99 and $159.99 (chrome) at The Main Course, 1910 Avenue Rd., The Y Grinder by Joseph Joseph

Mostly we like this one for its cool green good looks, though it also comes in less dramatic grey and white. The two-chamber unit with ceramic grinder is dishwasher safe and guaranteed for 10 years. $59.99 at Giftideaz, Richview Square, 250 Wincott Dr., 416-248-4403,

Olivier Roellinger by Peugot

Old World charm in fire-engine red or black. Based on the design of antique coffee grinders, this little number was named after threeMichelin starred chef Olivier Roellinger, a man famous for his judicious use of spices and seasonings.

$120 at Nella Cutlery, 876 Bathurst St., 416-922-9055,

Mark McEwen by Fresco

In two sizes (7” and 10”) and three colours (aubergine, black, white) these elegantly contoured mills feature oversized ceramic grinders, meaning more pepper or salt with fewer rotations, and a soft grip surface. $29.99 and $39.99 at Sears, several location across the GTA,

2 in 1 Manual Mill by Trudeau

The brushed stainless is stylin’ and the windows let you keep an eye on salt and pepper levels. The carbon steel grinder (pepper) and ceramic grinder (salt) are guaranteed for life. There’s even a batteryoperated version for folks with achy hands. $45 at The Cooks Place, 501 Danforth Ave., 416-461-5211,



Pop Savor Storemore by Prepara

With a ceramic base and silicon top that pops open, this little piggy is one of our faves. In red, white, and green. $27.99 at Kitchen Roots, 696 Danforth Ave., 647-436-7019,

Linus by Zack

German-made, sleek, steely and sexy... and not a lot of space for actual salt and pepper. Did we mention sexy?! $65 at Bergo Designs, 55 Mill St., Bldg. 47A, 416-861-1821,

Dispense Salt Cellar by Starfrit

This covered salt pig allows the cook to take a pinch or give it a shake, while the clear cover keeps kitchen crud out of the salt. $19.99 at Canadian Tire, several locations across the GTA,

Colbuto Pepper Mill by Swissmar

With its rounded bottom, it’s like a Weeble that wobbles and grinds pepper but won’t fall down. Perfect for dining on the yacht or to keep the kiddies amused. $18 at The Peppermill, 87 Avenue Rd., Hazelton Lanes, 416-929-1010,

Cottage Spalted Maple by Cam Lavers

Hand-crafted in Ontario by Cam Lavers from fallen branches, each is a one-of-kind original. The mechanism is top-drawer ceramic (CrushGrind) and guaranteed for 25 years. $69 to $199 at

(Early) Spring 2011


sugar & spice

By Sara d’Amato

The Joy of Salt Boutique salts offer flavour and crunch

My personal favourite is British Maldon salt, a flake salt, over a tomato salad.

Himalayan Pink Salt Pleasantly delicate, dissolves nicely and evenly over the palate in its finely ground state. Would work well on a variety of dishes including grilled fish, baked potatoes and white chocolate. Black Truffle Salt Deliciously rich flavour that would add an extravagant touch to even the simplest dishes. Authentic flavour—a pinch provides a good dose of truffle. A nice complement to patés, terrines and especially popcorn. Salish Smoked Salt Very pleasant flavour. Smokey but not aggressive. Would lend itself well to all sorts of grilled meat, and a great way to add a smoked meat flavour to foods. Ghost Salt Infused with the world’s hottest chili, the naga joinkia or Cobra Chili. Packs a punch and would be great on meats and fish but could be interesting on ceviche, chicken wings or in a meat rub. Alternatively, diluted with other salt and spice, this would most pleasantly spice up the rim on a Caesar. Île de Ré This French sel gris delivers a potent, salty impact. Dissolves quickly on food, but the coarse grade would be the perfect texture on edamame. Subtle earthy quality sets it apart from other salts. Cyprus Black Flake We love the texture of this large-flake Mediterranean lava salt. Could be very nice with milk chocolate or chocolate desserts. (Bitter chocolates do not work as well because the salt needs to play off the contrasting sweetness.) This finishing salt has a particularly striking appearance and would make a dramatic visual presentation on dishes that have lighter colours. Would be a great addition to roasted pork tenderloin. Sara d’Amato is a Toronto wine consultant, sommelier and writer. Visit



photo: jeff coulson

Despite health concerns over sodium intake, “artisanal” salt remains a hot accessory in top restaurants and epicurean boutiques. Even the supermarket chains are getting hip—Sobeys and Metro now carry a wide variety of international salts. Available in a range of colours, textures and flavours, boutique salts can really elevate a dinner table experience. The current salt craze is being fed from all corners of the globe, and by two local companies. Selsi Salt Rocks in St. Lawrence Market has an extensive tasting bar and knowledgeable staff, and they supply salt to many Toronto chefs. Just a Pinch is a wholesaler to retail shops of all sizes, including supermarkets. There are two primary types of salt. Rock salt is mined from (you guessed it) rock, and sea salt is harvested from the oceans. Some sea salts become “flake” salt with a little manipulation during harvest. Andrea Brockie from Selsi suggests sprinkling rock salt as a finisher on food—the crunchy texture playing into the experience of salty release. Himalayan rock salt, she suggests, is good on edamame because it is harder and does not dissolve too quickly. My personal favourite experience is British Maldon salt, a flake salt, over a tomato salad. Flake salts, because of their crystalline structure, tend to hold their own well on damp foods but melt very easily on the palate and are easy to crunch. Rock salts, when coarsely ground, can cause quite a toothache. Better to use them in prepared dishes. Here are some tasting notes to get you started. All of these salts come from Selsi. For more tasting notes and information, visit and

Sugar & Spice

By Dick Snyder

Top Toronto Wings We ate, we debated, we rated We set out to judge the house version of hot wings. We did not sample any exotic flavours. We looked for chicken flavour; quality of chicken; texture; sauce and overall flavour experience (the pleasure principle). We gave bonus points for an even ratio of drumsticks and flats; tasty dipping sauce; and size of wetnap. Rating: 1 to 10. Anything under 5 would be suspect. Anything over 7 is good, and we’d go again

9 Bistro on Avenue These scream quality chicken: tasty, moist (not slippery), great texture. Complex almost smokey flavours, a superior wing. Must be an actual chef in the kitchen!

hyped, these wings crashed and burned. Smell of smouldering garlic. When queried about their sorry state, the waiter let slip that they deep fry first, then bake to ensure they’re done—to death, it would appear. We still had to pay for them, too!

5 Duff’s Famous Wings Big letdown! Nice Red Hot sauce aroma, but that’s it. Soggy, slippery, flavourless wings. Off-putting texture, and so tongue-numbingly salty we had to give up (a first!). Macho wings, all bluster and heat, no substance. Final insult: only two drumsticks of 11 pieces!

9 Sneaky Dee’s The underdog comes through! Lovely vinegar and hot sauce aroma, almost a char backbeat. Buffalo style. A tad mild, but with intriguing sweetness. On the smaller side, but points for purity (no breading) and great chicken flavour.

1554 Queen St. W., 416-532-2570

558 College St., 416-963-4446,

431 College St., 416-603-3090

1678 Avenue Rd., 416-783-1928,

6 Mitzi’s Sister Though much lauded and 5.5 Crown & Dragon Not the best in town,

despite claims. Dry drumstick, stale oil aroma, greasy. OK heat and crunch. 890 Yonge St., 416-927-7976,

2 The Wing Co. Sickly sweet aroma, gooey texture (over-breaded then sogged in sauce), absolutely awful. We think the coating might be crushed Fruit Loops. 700 King St. W., #7, 416-369-9464,

8.5 Foggy Dew Classic buffalo style, but

with an elevated flavour profile that might be due to superior chicken. Aroma of red chilis, and not too salty. Plump, with a slight crisp. 803 King St. W., 416-703-4042, 8 St. Louis Bar & Grill And now for

something completely different—and delicious! These are dry, elegantly seasoned, full of flavour and irresistible. A little wet hot sauce might be nice, though. Maybe on the side. 92 King St. E., 416-840-0268, 7.5 Wheat Sheaf Solid, honest bar wings, nice heat and a light crunch. 667 King St. W., 416-504-9912 7 Hot Wings Grill and Rib House Grilled,

not fried. Big wings, lovely Asian notes (chilis, maybe hoisen) remind us of Korean BBQ. Points deducted: awful greasy fries, and no wetnaps. 563 Queen St. W., 416-3598860, 6 Ein-Stein Bier Hall We were told this U of

T hangout had promise. Genial atmosphere and friendly service, but ho-hum wings. Nice batter crunch, acceptable buffalo-style sauce, but very cheap chicken (slippery, greasy) with a bit of a stale (old refrigerator) funk. 229 College St., 416-59-STEIN, (Early) Spring 2011


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As the wine world continues its obsession with blends, it’s wonderful to find the value-packed wines of Corbières. In this wine you’ll find carignan, grenache and syrah melding into a dark purple elixir of fresh red berries, hints of flowers and a touch of spice. You’ll note its silky richness and lovely round tannins. Bottle: $17.95 | Case: $215.40 (12x750mL) Erik Banti 2009 Morellino di Scansano DOCG

This is such a delightfully herbaceous wine that I’d rather not let anyone else in on the secret. Lovely black cherry nose, faint licorice notes (thank you, sangiovese!) and an overall olfactory vista that transports you to a field in Tuscany. A joyful wine that does what it should, with no pretention or attitude. Merlot (10%) and cabernet sauvignon (5%) round it all out. More please!

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Bottle: $19.95 | Case: $239.40 (12x750mL) Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno 2007 Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC

Barbera is ranks high on my “favourite red grapes” list these days. Why? Versatility, for one. Easy approachability, for sure. This is a grape that few people know, but which everyone loves after the first sip. This example is possibly the best I’ve had, a moderately full-bodied wine with confident structure, supremely rich cherry and red berry flavours, and the smoothest of tannins. I love it all by itself, but pair it with a plate of cold meats and look out! Bottle: $24.95 | Case: $149.70 (6x750mL) Château Des Charmes 2007 Riesling Icewine, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard VQA

This wine took gold medal at the 2010 Ontario Wine Awards, which I had the pleasure of judging. The true stand-outs could be counted on one hand, and I’m not surprised that Chateau des Charmes led the field. This 2007 is a riot of flavours—exotic tropicals, pear/peach/apricot and syrup, as John Szabo points out in his 93-point rating. Drink ASAP for maximum zing! Bottle: $65 (1x375mL) Domaine Robert Arnoux 2008 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots

May 7, 2011

Consistently top-ranked by the wine media, this hails from the region that produces the most expensive Burgundies, and in that context the Arnoux 2008 Vosne-Romanée is an incredible value. Specifically, the wines from Les Suchots vineyard are singled out for their sublime attraction. awarded 91-93 points, declaring: “A classic Vosne nose that is ultra spicy, complex, layered and extremely stylish….” Note: Special order; may take 8–12 weeks for delivery. Bottle: $269 | Case: $1614 (6x750mL)

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By Stephen Beaumont

A stout shout Guinness is goodness, but it’s not the last word in dark beer this Paddy’s Day

ys! Senior’s Da

This March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, thousands of Torontonians will flock to bars and pubs— Irish-themed or not—to throw back large quantities of a stout called Guinness. For many if not most, it will be the one day of the year they actually drink the stuff, and it’s a safe bet that a generous percentage of those people will, on any of those other 364 days, swear that they “don’t like dark beer.â€? So why will they do it? Because it’s St. Paddy’s Day and that’s what you’re supposed to do, never mind what you like or don’t like the rest of the year. Which is, of course, silly, but what the hell—it’s St. Paddy’s Day! Me, I don’t mind a grudging pint of Guinness now and again—“grudgingâ€? because I remember when it had a more assertive and, to my palate, interesting and enjoyable flavour—but I also know that once the beer is poured into my glass, it ceases to have a brand or even a country attached to it. And so long as said beer is black, there’s nary a beer drinker in the world who will question my St. Patrick’s Day tipple. Which is why come this March 17, rather than yet another pint of overly chilled, faintly roasty Guinness, you’re likely to find one of the following ebony beauties in my glass: Black Creek Porter (5% alcohol): Conceived in the historically accurate brewery at Black Creek Pioneer Village, but for practical purposes brewed in Oakville, this attractive brew has light wafts of roasted grain in its nose, supported by fruity-vanilla notes, and a faintly sweet, ever-so-slightly tangy body with notes of roasted chestnut and burnt toast, tobacco and prune. A fine pint for any century. $3.55/500 mL at LCBO Lake of Bays Mocha Porter (5.2%): The use of the word “mochaâ€? in the name of this brew is well advised, as both coffee and chocolate notes permeate the aroma and flavour. The end result is a seamless, slightly caramelly mix of brewed coffee and light and dark chocolate, all built over a base of ripe fruity notes and leading to an off-dry finish. A superb choice to accompany Irish stew. $7.95/750 mL at LCBO Fuller’s London Porter (5.4%): Porter and stout originated in London, not Dublin, so this is nowhere near the heresy it might seem. Roastier on the nose than that Irish brew, albeit also a tad sweeter, this is a highly food-friendly ale with raisin and date mixed with cocoa powder on the nose and medium dark chocolate sitting alongside more raisin and dried fruit notes with hints of liquorice and brown spice in the body. Smooth and satisfying. $3.60/500 mL at LCBO Nørrebro La Granja Espresso Stout (7.5%): Part of a Nørrebro brewery feature at the LCBO— collect all five!—this “special editionâ€? beer from Denmark is fermented with 160 litres of Ontario maple syrup. The nose shows sweet espresso, with date and dried plum in the background, while the body offers toffee-ish sweetness mixed with maple, plum preserves and candied walnut, ending in a re-emergence of the coffee notes. Pricey, but well worth the coin. $10.15/600 mL at LCBO Ă–lvisholt Lava (9.4%): Named for the Icelandic volcano viewable from the brewery door, this Imperial stout has a subtle smokiness more apparent in the aroma than the flavour, and a rich body that blends prune-y sweetness with burnt butterscotch and smoky port wine notes. The end result is a nightcap stout that is as intriguing as it is warming and satisfying. $5.70/500 mL at LCBO (discontinued)

$2.95/355 mL at LCBO (discontinued)




Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (10%): The nose on this beauty evokes the admittedly

odd image of concentrated port wine mixed with a teaspoon of fireplace embers, while the sweet and slightly treacly body brings muddled fruit mixed with roasted malt, vanilla and hints of mint herbals, all leading to one very contented end to the night.


Having spent St. Patrick’s Day 2010 in Ybor City, Florida, Stephen Beaumont will


be happy to celebrate the Irish saint this year with a pint or two and a boxty in his downtown condo.


(Early) Spring 2011


The Ej

By Konrad Ejbich

Where’s the “O” in LCBO? Why selling “O” is not a priority in “O” I drink wa-a-ay more than my share of Ontario VQA wine, so it isn’t my fault our wine industry isn’t growing as fast as it could or should. Don’t blame the Liquor Control Board of Ontario either. True, out of more than 10,000 offerings at the LCBO—or as I call it, the KGBO—only 300 are generally listed VQA wines (though not available at all outlets). That’s 3 measely percent. But it’s not their fault. KGBO operatives work to extract every dollar possible from the industry. We all know about wine mark-ups. But how about the revenues squeezed from wineries for in-house advertising and merchandising programs, which do more to promote the liquor board than the wines themselves? What about the percentage of sales clawed back from the hospitality industry? Permit fees for every occasion imaginable? Exorbitant testing and certification fees? Licensing fees? Environmental levies? Handling charges? And did you know the KGBO makes megabucks by data-mining industry stats and selling them back to wine and liquor agents? It also competes for sales of Ontario wine with the wineries themselves. So why would the KGBO push a product consumers might buy elsewhere: online or by visiting a winery shop? The bottom line is that when KGBO operatives sit down to make their hard-assed business decisions, supporting local wineries is not a priority. There is no profit in patriotism. What they care about is Great Local Chards what sells the most and how they can boost the bottom line. But don’t blame them for carrying so little Ontario Casa Dea Estate wine. Why should they stock it if you don’t buy it? Chardonnay 2009 Yes, in the long run, dear reader, the blame rests [Prince Edward County] squarely with you. You know who you are. Clean, fresh notes of pear, You drink Aussie Ripper because your friends do. buttercream and hazelnuts. You’ve heard that Argentine malbec is cooler than Light and dry with fabulous California merlot, so you buy that, too. You’re still in minerality. Drink now to 2014. denial that anything from Ontario is palatable. Or you’re $12.95 at just a creature of habit as you reach for the same foreignmade plonk time and again. Ho hum. Colaneri Estate

KGBO operatives work to extract every dollar possible from the industry So, here and now, I’m challenging you to take part in a lifestyle-changing experiment. For the next three months, every time you buy a bottle of foreign wine, take home a bottle from Ontario in the same style and price range. (To be sure you have genuine Ontario juice, look for the VQA symbol of authenticity.) And every time you drink wine or serve it to your friends, serve it in pairs, with one selection from Ontario. Ultimately, you’ll be sold on the high quality and wide range of domestic choices. Of course, if you already buy Ontario wine confidently, ignore my rant and continue pulling the corks from any of the tasty wines listed here. On March 8, these chardonnays were among 50 “greats” poured for big name wine writers in New York. They get my stamp of approval, but you can’t buy them at the KGBO. CB



Chardonnay “Paese” 2008

[Niagara Peninsula] Deep straw gold with oaky, white marmalade aromas, rich texture, complexity and a bright finish. Drink now to 2013. $34.95 at Pondview Estate Chardonnay 2009

[Four Mile Creek] Ripe, powerful and full of pure apple, peach and pear flavours. Even better on day two. Drink now to 2012. $17.20 at or

konrad ejbich is a member of the Wine Writer’s Circle of Canada. He writes for Style at Home magazine and answers caller questions on CBC Radio’s Ontario Today. He’s currently updating his Pocket Guide to Ontario Wines, Wineries, Vineyards & Vines. Follow



By John Szabo MS

Sweet Surrender Get a sugar high with these beauties Once the most sought-after alcoholic beverages on the planet, sweet wines fell out of favour in recent years. But they’re baaaack. Before European colonization of sugarcane growing regions, sweet flavours were rare and expensive. Long before sugar was a staple in every home, sweet wines made life a little sweeter. Today, the over-abundance of sweet flavours in everything from breakfast cereal to barbecue sauce has made our sweet cravings too easy to satisfy. Sweet wines are less desired by the masses, but their fascinating histories and unique production methods continue to captivate fans. There are five principal methods for making wine sweet. Here’s the 101 as well as a few good wines to try. Adding Sugars

Sugar, usually in the form of fresh or concentrated grape must, is added before bottling. The Germans call this süssreserve (sweet reserve) and it’s not permitted in QmP-designated wines. It’s also the method used to sweeten sherry and marsala, both fortified wines. And here’s a secret: You’d be surprised how many supposedly dry commercial table wines have been tweaked with a little süssreserve to give them wider appeal. ROSEWOOD ESTATES NATALIE’S SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING 2008 VQA Niagara Peninsula | $18 Vintages #164483

Adding Alcohol

Alcohol—usually grape-based—is added to grape must (mistelle) or partially fermented wine (vin doux naturel) to increase the alcohol volume to above 15-16 percent, thereby killing the active yeasts and halting fermentation. Sugars that were not fermented remain in the juice. Famous mistelles are pineau des charentes (Cognac), floc de gascogne (Armagnac), ratafia (Champagne) and macvin (The Jura). Port, sweet Madeira and the muscats of southern France like Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rivesaltes and Frontignan are among the best-known VDNs. LIMNOS WINES MUSCAT DE LIMNOS 2009 Greece | $11.95

Stopping the Fermentation Early

Chilling a wine mid-fermentation puts yeast into a state of dormancy before it’s finished chewing up sugar and spitting out alcohol. Filter it out, and you’ve got a low alcohol off-dry to sweet wine. A classic example is frothy Moscato d’Asti. It’s sweet with just 5.5% alcohol.

GHIONE PICCOLE GIOIE MOSCATO D’ASTI 2009 Italy | $15.95 Vintages #192443

Adding Raisins

Grapes are harvested and left to dry in well-ventilated rooms or on mats in the sun, concentrating everything—flavour, colour, and sugars. When crushed, the sugar in the must is so high the yeast dies before being able to convert all of it into alcohol, resulting in a strong, sweet wine. The process is called appassimento in Italian, passerillage in French. Other examples are Greek vinsanto, mavrodaphne of Patras, Samos nectar, Italian vinsanto, recioto (Valpolicella, Soave), French vin de paille and German and Austrian strohwein. CAMBAS MAVRODAPHNE OF PATRAS Greece | $9.40 Vintages #178004

Harvesting Late

Picking grapes much later in the fall allows the fruit to over-ripen. As in raisining, the sugar levels are so high that yeast is not able to ferment the wine totally dry. Beyond over-ripening, other things can happen to a grape while it waits on the vine: the grapes can shrivel up (raisining), they can rot with the aid of a fungus (hopefully the noble kind, botrytis cinerea), or they can freeze. The flavour profiles may differ, but all phenomena result in sweet wines. As for icewine, though it was first produced in Germany, no other wine region makes more than Canada. BÉRÉS HÁRSLEVELÜ LATE HARVEST TOKAJI 2008 Hungary | $12.95 Vintages #180216

john szbo is wine editor of

CityBites, buyer for the Terroni Group of Restaurants and reviewer for Catch his wine picks and news via twitter@johnszabo.

How to Buy Wine from an Agent

Buying consignment wines from an agent is easy. Go online and get their list. Phone or email your order. Wait for delivery. Repeat.

B&W Wines

Lifford Wine Agency

Profile Wine Group


416-440-4101 or toll-free 1-877-272-1720


B&W Wines offers a portfolio of iconic and boutique wineries: Penley Estate, Lillypilly, Two Hands and Jansz from OZ; Darioush and La Crema in California; Argentinean Bodegas Weinert; Barolos from Brovia, Rhone-Ranger Jean-Luc Colombo and Douro producer Quinta de Ventolezo.

2010 Winner - VINTAGES Portfolio Award of Excellence Serving the hospitality sector and private consumers in Ontario since 1985 with a focus on family owned and operated wineries that are equally as passionate about great wine as we are. Cakebread Cellars, Maison Louis Jadot, Felton Road, Felsina and Hollick, to name just a few.

Like you, we are Passionate about quality wine. Our Passion. At your service. Please check out our web site for our entire list… it is full of high quality wines at every price point.

(Early) Spring 2011


One last bite

By Signe Langford

A Spoonful of Sugar There’s a whole wide world of sweetness out there


If yeast doesn’t get to this stuff and turn it into tequila, agave syrup 1 is sought after for its neutral taste and lowglycemic impact. This is real brown sugar 2, not merely white refined sugar sprayed with a thin molasses wash. It’s un-processed and raw with a rich molasses flavour. Chestnut honey 3 has a strong, leathery, woody, almost perfumed flavour, and is best with savoury foods. Our very own beloved maple syrup 4 as Canadian as hockey and as pure as the driven snow. The product of evaporated cane juice and found in most asian shops, rock sugar 5 is flavourless but makes for an interesting change from sugar cubes. Made from the boiled down sap of palm trees, from sago to date, jaggery 6 is brown, moist, and sticky with a flavour all it’s own. Big lumps of the stuff need to be smashed or grated (find it in South East Asian markets). And speaking of sticky, blackstrap molasses 7 is produced by a third boiling down of cane juice. Super thick and strongly flavoured, it’s a mineral and vitamin powerhouse often prescribed as a health tonic. Nature’s candy, honeycomb 8 is just that, a chunk of beeswax cells full of honey. Pop a bit in your mouth, chew and the honey is released while the wax neatly forms into a clump, perfect for spittin’!









photo: Jeff Coulson


Issue 35 - Early Spring 2011  

CityBites Issue 35 Early Spring 2011