1 877 390 9050 gadventures.com
MORE TRAVEL, LESS FILTERS. From your outlook to your Instastories – get ready to see the world differently. G Adventures small-group tours are all about connecting you to the places on the globe you want to see, but in a way you couldn’t do on your own. We’ll get you to all the must-see, must-do, mustmeet experiences you’ve been dreaming of, while adding our favourite I-never-knew-that-existed moments. When you know the world as well as we do, it’s easy to share it. Over 700 trips. 7 continents. Countless lives changed.
Photo taken by co-founder Tim. View from the quinine plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
WE GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH FOR THE PERFECT G&T Gin is only as good as the tonic it’s paired with. That’s why at Fever-Tree, it’s all about taste. One might even say our founders Charles and Tim are a little obsessed. In their quest to create the world’s first premium Indian tonic water, Charles and Tim spent days in the British Library researching quinine sources before travelling to some of the most remote parts of the world in search of the finest ingredients – even as far as the Democratic Republic of the Congo to find quinine of the highest quality. It’s this unique ingredient that gives our tonic its essential bitter flavour and, when balanced with naturally-sourced botanicals like orange oils, makes for a gin & tonic that’s crisp, clean and like no other. However, Charles and Tim didn’t stop there. Since no gin is the same, they developed a selection of awardwinning flavoured tonics – each one individually crafted to complement the varied flavour profiles of gin. Find the perfect tonic for your favourite gin at fever-tree.com
OF YOUR DRINK IS THE MIXER, MIX WITH THE BEST
TM Fever tree Ltd.
Call for a Conductor’s!
Inspired by traditional beers created when life was more about the journey than the destination, Conductor’s Craft Ale from Junction Craft Brewing is fresh, aromatic and full of f lavour. Call for a Conductor’s at your favourite local, the LCBO, and select Beer and grocery stores. junctioncraft.com @ JUNCTIONCRAFT @ JUNCTION_CRAFT @ junctioncraft
Visit our Brewery in The Destructor at 150 Symes Road in The Junction
Editorial EDITOR AT LARGE
Suresh Doss WRITERS
Andrea Yu, Jessica Huras COPY EDITOR
Sydney Van Der Velde, Teresa Donato
Design ART DIRECTOR
Matthew Hasteley DESIGNER
April Tran PHOTOGRAPHERS
It’s so surreal to think that in a year and a half, we’ve shared nine issues of foodism Toronto with you. I can still remember the final hours of production as we sent Issue 1 to press, the entire team carefully combing through the issue to ensure that we had done our best to create a notable
Ryan Faist, Kayla Rocca, Sandro Pehar, Chris Sue-Chu, Alyssa Wodabek
book of food and drink.
culinary scene unlike any other magazine, with compelling stories from
Lily Hu, Corey Mintz, Sarah Parniak ADVERTISING
Nicole Aggelonitis, David Horvatin LEAD DEVELOPER
AJ Cerqueti CHAIRMAN
FRONT COVER: Photography by Ian Dingle Art direction by Matthew Hasteley
This is our 10th issue. Over the last nine, we’ve covered the Toronto Prince Edward County to Niagara, and nearly every suburb in between. Since the launch issue, foodism Toronto has spanned beyond the confines of the downtown core and over the next 10 issues, you can expect to see more of our diverse surroundings. In the last six months, Toronto has become fascinated with chef-
GRAZE 010 THE FOODIST 014 DAYTRIPPER
Mi5 Print and Digital Communications
driven food halls. Corey Mintz takes us into the new world of gourmet
016 THE RADAR
foodism uses paper from
food offerings (pg. 34). As we quickly approach marijuana legalization, a
018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE
food scene is emerging in cannabis culture. Sarah Parniak previews what’s
to come (pg. 40). Toronto chef Lily Hu reveals the dark side of Toronto’s
031 LILY HU
hierarchical kitchen structure and how we can improve it (pg. 31) and I chat with Richmond Station chef Carl Heinrich about his latest obsession –
vegetable farming (pg. 54).
034 HALLS OF FAME
We hope you enjoy the latest edition of foodism Toronto. P.S. In case you missed it, we launched escapism Toronto! Our first full issue of global stories is now out and we’re excited to bring a fresh voice to travel. Follow along on @escapismTO to learn more. f
040 EAT YOUR GREENS 046 ON THE LAMB 054 PLOT TO PLATE 060 COCKTAIL HOUR
EXCESS 068 THE FERTILE DESERT 084 BOTTLE SERVICE 091 THE NOSTALGIST 093 THE DIGEST Suresh Doss
094 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
© Foodism Toronto 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Foodism Toronto cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Foodism Toronto a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Foodism Toronto nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Foodism Toronto endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.
A particularly dry gin with a zesty, citrus finish.
SIPSMITH.COM | @SIPSMITH
— PART 1 —
GRAZE “GETTING THE PERFECT INSTAGRAM SHOT IS AN EXERCISE IN BOTH HUMILITY AND PATIENCE” THE FOODIST, 010
010 THE FOODIST | 014 DAYTRIPPER | 016 THE RADAR 018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE | 023 RECIPES | 031 LILY HU
Andrea Yu delves into her complicated relationship with mid-meal Instagramming.
LOCAL HEROES B UZ Z-WORT HY B E E K E E PE RS
1 MADISON WEIR Alvéole
going to eat, or e-announce our presence at a restaurant where the who’s who of Toronto competes for precious reservations, has superseded our desire to enjoy the meal that a team of cooks has worked hard to create, and also the company we’re with. Restaurants and bars have apparently caught on, too. They install eye-catching artwork, and soon-to-open establishments need to at least consider putting up a hashtag-worthy wall. Impressive plating has always been a pillar of great dining, but ’gram-eager spots take it to the next level with mains and desserts that are crafted solely for the spectacular Boomerang shot. During an ice cream run last summer, a friend ordered the scoop-in-a-novelty-pastry option, and while she wouldn’t admit that it was only for the social snap, she quietly allowed that it was “too much dessert for one person.” I smirked knowingly while hiding behind my modest scoop, which sat atop a regular, ole sugar cone. When I eventually saw the shot she took, featuring the outrageous cone blanketed in a soft-focus haze, and the ensuing excitementfilled comments and food envy from her followers, it wasn’t revulsion but jealousy that I felt. Many a #foodporn-worthy photos have I admired but failed to execute on my own. I now accept that my aversion to Instagramming could actually just be a cover for my own ineptitude. Either way, from now until press day, I’ll be thinking of how I can curry favour with my boss to make up for everything I’ve just admitted. f
WILLIAM ROMAN Rosewood Estates
Roman is a thirdgeneration apiarist so beekeeping is in his blood. At Rosewood Estates, he educates guests with “bee tours” through hives and produces mead – a honey wine – for the winery.
Photography: Foodist by Unsplash; Heroes by Ryan Faist
HAVE A SMALL confession to make: I don’t like Instagram. This admission is going to get me in trouble because promoting the magazine through social media is one of my many job requirements (along with writing thoughtful opinions about food and drink). I’ve gotten flack from my boss, on multiple occasions, for not Instagramming enough, so I’m now always on the lookout for ’gram-worthy opps. And while some of these happen in the office or at home when I’m feeling creative in the kitchen, the majority of shareable snaps take place while out for dinner or drinks. Getting the perfect shot of my dish is an exercise in both humility and patience. I subtly pull out my phone and, as swiftly as humanly possible, capture as many lighting angles and compositions as I can while avoiding the unappreciative scowls of restaurant guests within eyeshot. (Did I remember to turn off autoflash?) The only way to maintain composure and any semblance of self-respect is to pretend no one is watching. But I can’t ignore the cut-eye from nearby diners. How do I know people are staring? Well, that’s easy. I know because, when I’m off the clock, I’m the one behind those judgemental glares. All the while I’m salivating and silently (or vocally, to everyone else at the table) rueing the fact that my food is getting cold. Part of this disdain comes from the fact that I’m contributing to a habit of dining that I despise. Our instinct to capture photographic evidence of the food we’re
Weir loves her bees and even cuddles them. To get closer to her bees, she never wears a bee suit and says if she works calmly they will never sting. Weir and Alvéole source honey in Toronto that is neighbourhood-specific. It can be molasses dark and taste of pecans or golden with fresh grapefruit flavours.
1. Fill your cart 2. Pick a delivery time 3. Eat and repeat
We del and iver w spir ine its.
*Oﬀer may not be used in conjunccon with any other promooonal oﬀer. Limit one promooon code per account. This oﬀer is valid for online purchases of at least $50 (excluding taxes and delivery). Expires on May 30, 2018.
LOCAL HEROES 3
KULDIP JASSAL YYBeez
Planes aren’t the only thing flying overhead at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. One of the many hives that Jassal cares for, YYBeez is located on airport property. There he helps produce about 1,338 pounds of their Just Plane Honey per year. Jassal believes that eating local honey plays a vital role in reducing allergies. The various pollen and nectar collected by bees from urban flowers and plants are, in his opinion, what cured him of his own lifelong, seasonal affliction.
TE A FO R T.O.
In 2010, when an opportunity to add a beehive to the rooftop at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel arose, Coates became an early pioneer for urban beekeeping in Toronto. Since then her interest in bees has grown into BEEGrrl, a maker of small-batch honey. Coates believes caring for a hive is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. When she commits herself to a hive she remembers that she has a direct impact on thousands of other bees and their neighbouring colonies.
GREG SCOTT Circling Hawk Farm
Greg Scott stresses that an apiarist works for the love of it, not for the profit. While Circling Hawk Farm does have a successful hive, they have yet to make a profit from selling honey. This is not an uncommon issue among honey makers. Though the necessary equipment is expensive, Scott knows that his unusual job is worth it. Circling Hawk Farm is pressed to find a time when the bees are producing honey instead of eating it, so they only get two harvests every year.
Local blenders are helping bring tea appreciation in Toronto out from hipster coffee’s shadow. PLUCK TEAS
The East York-based tea blender stands alone for prioritizing sustainable practices and using Ontario products. Premium leaves are sourced from a network of ethical tea growers and are blended with local ingredients like maple sugar, pine, peaches and lavender. Pluck has over 30 varieties of tea to suit every sort of tea drinker. pluckteas.com
Sloane’s promise is that each of their blends is crafted by tea sommeliers who take colour, fragrance and flavour into consideration. Rare collections are also available, highlighting the hand-rolled production from premier estates. Sloane’s gorgeous tea containers also double as great conversation pieces and a gift-worthy package. sloanetea.com
If you’re new to tea, your first stop should be Tealish’s tasting bar. The Toronto company prides itself on creating tea blends for every palate, and keeps things exciting with seasonal collections that match the weather. The Canadiana collection is a favourite. There’s another reason to visit the Roncesvalles location: Their artisan tea pots. tealish.com
Photography: Heroes by Ryan Faist; Tea by Suresh Doss
MELANIE COATES Fairmont Royal York
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Other must-try spots
Vaughan is packed with the exceptional food you’d expect from a region with one of the world’s largest Italian populations.
Quality Cheese; 111 Jevlan Dr. Imported peppers and olive oil are among the specialties, but the house-made cheeses (ricotta especially) are the top sellers. qualitycheese.com
Veal or porchetta? Discerning locals love their sandwiches. Whether piled on a crusty roll or soft bun, filled with all the fixings or straight up, there are two versions that reign supreme.
◆◆ Ricci’s; 8401
Weston Rd. This rite of passage should be your first stop. Ricci’s is a lively shop with top-notch takes on classic veal and eggplant sandwiches. Start with a spicy veal, loaded with extra sauce, please. riccispizza.ca
◆◆ Vicentina; 109
Edilcan Dr. If you prefer a drier sandwich that sings of roast porchetta, head to this mom-and-pop spot. Vicentina has grown from a modest sandwichand-takeaway counter to a full-on meat emporium. vicentina.ca
The important milestone family gatherings – from weddings to christenings – all call for long tables groaning with platters of meat and plates piled high with pasta. Here are two popular local spots that make special occasions their stock-in-trade.
◆◆ 255 by Alta Rossa;
◆◆ XXI Chophouse; 21
Nashville Rd. Make a reservation at XXI for some of the best steaks in Vaughan, served in a luxurious and historic setting. If you’re not a steak lover, their special risotto of the day is also a popular and hearty choice. xxichophouse.com
Ciao Roma; 28 Roytec Rd. #12A Few places serve pizza al taglio (by weight). The dough is thick and fluffy compared to others. They make a dozen combos of toppings. crpizza.ca
Photography: Dolce by Linda Söndergaard
255 Bass Pro Mills Dr. #703A Locals will point you to this traditional Italian trattoria for their dozen classic styles of pasta. 255 also has an impressive wine list. Splurge on the lobster spaghetti. 255altarossa.com
Dolce Bombe; 7611 Pine Valley Dr. #4 This bakery makes some of the best bombas (stuffed Italian doughnuts). Pick from a dozen flavours but start with Nutella and coffee. @dolcebombe
No taurine · Vegan · Lactose-free www.28black.com ·
The advertised product may not be suitable for everyone. More information on the label.
THE BETTER ENERGY DRINK
SUKOS H I M ART
DRINKING DRINKING GRAZING DINING TRENDING
THE RADAR With new options for wine, cider and snacks, here are the latest openings in Toronto. DINING
S ENATOR WI NE BA R
One of Toronto’s oldest restaurants has revamped its second level as a French wine bar. Executive chef Paul Laforet (Ursa, Drake Hotel) presents a bistro menu with recognizable items such as braised veal cheeks and duck liver mousse with a decent selection of Old World wines and classic cocktails to match. On weekends, a rotating roster of live musicians will perform, some on the 1920s Heintzman piano. thesenator.com
WAL RU S PUB
The latest opening by the Vancouver-based Donnelly Group (Belfast Love, Death & Taxes) is already attracting the after-office crowd to its prime location at Bay and Wellington. At a dedicated martini bar, the Ivory Room, there are 24 iterations of the classic cocktail on offer. A well-prepared menu of pub classics includes a crispy chicken sandwich, lamb pizza and a sticky chocolate pudding. An outdoor patio and café are slated to open in the coming months. donnellygroup.ca/walrus
SHINTA J APANE SE B B Q
The GTA’s all-you-can-eat game gets a formidable boost with the opening of Shinta Japanese BBQ. Their regular AYCE menu features items such as New Zealand lamb racks and marinated salmon but the notable option is the premium wagyu menu which adds high grade cuts of the prized, pricey beef including Australian M6+ grade wagyu and American Gold grade wagyu. The restaurant credits direct sourcing from farms and connections with the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Group for keeping prices affordable. Rates for the wagyu menu start at $69.99 per person. @ShintaBBQ
B R IC KWOR KS C IDE R HOUSE The latest addition to the east end’s booming craft drinks scene is the Brickworks Ciderhouse at Broadview and Queen. Billed as the “first urban ciderhouse in the country”, the new location boasts cider-making facilities and a restaurant with a farmhouse-inspired menu. Expect items like baked brie, cider-brined pork chops and pub-made apple pie. Drink releases will take advantage of the facility’s barrel and bottle aging systems. theciderhouse.ca
We can now get a taste of Japan’s famous convenience stores at Baldwin Village’s Sukoshi Mart. It features house-made snacks such as inari sushi – tofu skin “pockets” filled with rice, mushrooms and root veg – mini taiyaki and onigiri. They also stock novelty items like socks, figurines and beauty products. sukoshimart.com
FAR M BOY
We’ve long wished for a Trader Joe’s in Canada. But Farm Boy is now Etobicoke’s comparable alternative. It’s the 25th location of the family-owned grocer, which began as a produce stand in Cornwall 35 years ago. They are best known for private label items such as salad dressings, ice cream and carefully -sourced snacks. farmboy.ca
AG ORA BY M AM A K AS
Situated just across from Trinity Bellwoods Park, Agora focuses on grab-and-go meals such as sandwiches and salads sold by weight along with more unusual, authentic Greek offerings like pirnerli flatbreads topped with cheese and ground meat as well as dumpling-like bougatsa pastries. theagora.ca
You will understand why it is the lager for those in the know.
Universally regarded as one of the world's great lager conditioned beers, we only use the ďŹ nest ingredients, ďŹ rst-class cones from locally grown Saaz hops, natural soďż˝ water from ice age lakes and carefully selected grains of a unique strain of the Moravian barley make our Czechvar B:Original a truly great beer.
WEAPONS OF CHOICE Home bar gear so slick even your friends will feel compelled to leave a tip. PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN FAIST
SE E ME RO LLINâ€™ BAR CART, $295 A two-tiered bar cart with a gold-tone iron frame and art deco styling. Functional wheel brakes prevent drink-service disruptions. cocktailemporium.com
Photograph by ###
F O R B E G INNE R BAR K E E PS COPPER-TONE TOOLS, $5 TO $95 A polished set of mixing essentials for the beginner bartender, including a Boston shaker and Hawthorne strainer. cocktailemporium.com
F O R SK IL L E D SL ING E RS SILVER-TONE TOOLS, $2.79 TO $125 A deluxe collection in durable steel to elevate the average home bar, including a Yarai mixing glass and a premium muddler. cocktailemporium.com
A FRESH START FOR SPRING AS SEASONAL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES RE-ENTER OUR KITCHENS, FIND INSPIRATION FOR THEIR USE IN THESE VEG-FRIENDLY COOKBOOKS.
SPRING IS THE official launch of the growing season, an exciting time when we’re reminded of seasonal vegetables we forgot existed during hibernation. It’s the only time of the year when the bounty at farmer’s markets changes on a weekly basis, from the first sightings of wild leeks, to the earliest bunches of asparagus. The options can be overwhelming, so we’ve picked two cookbooks to help you kick off spring right. Chef Ilene Rosen is no stranger to the topic of seasonal produce. She has spent much of her career specializing in all things green as a cook and owner of R&D Foods
in her native Brooklyn. Her newest book, Saladish ($34.95, amazon.ca) delves deep into the world of vegetarian dishes with unexpected ingredients to create stunning presentations of textures and flavours. If you’re like us, you’ve been exploring alternative protein sources to create a more sustainable planet. Authors Heather Lawless and Jen Mulqueen have tailored a compendium of plant-based recipes with chickpeas as the main star. The Chickpea Revolution ($24.99, amazon.ca) features over 80 recipes that will help you maintain a hearty, nutritious and sustainable diet. f
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a FOODISM RECIPES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY SANTA CAROLINA
Photograph by ###
Santa Carolina is one of Chile´s most traditional and oldest wineries with a history spanning 140 years. Named after the founder’s wife, Carolina Iñiguez, the winery presents a new look inspired by her. Carolina Reserva is a tribute to Iñiguez’s ability to turn the simplest moments into grand occasions. Like Iñiguez, Carolina
Reserva isn’t afraid to innovate and create new sensations to keep palates intrigued. Carolina Reserva is a wine that you can enjoy every day, with loved ones or on your own. Either way, Carolina Reserva is a wine that makes amazing moments unique. Santa Carolina wines are proudly presented by Charton-Hobbs.
Heather Lawless & Jen Mulqueen’s
SPANISH STYLE CHICKPEAS SPINACH AND ALMONDS GIVE A DISTINCTLY SPANISH FLAVOUR TO THIS WHOLESOME CHICKPEA DISH.
Santa Carolina Reserva Chardonnay
A dry white with tropical fruit notes of melon, papaya and peach with hints of hazelnut. LCBO #304022
1 Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add half the spinach and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until wilted. 2 Set aside and do the same with the remaining spinach, using an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Remove from skillet and set aside. 3 In the same skillet, add all of the cubed bread, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and the whole almonds. Cook until the bread is golden brown
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
◆◆ 10 oz spinach (about 16
◆◆ 4 slices of bread, cubed
(roughly 2 cups)
◆◆ 20 almonds, whole
◆◆ 3 cloves garlic, minced ◆◆ 1 tsp cumin
◆◆ 1 tsp smoked paprika
◆◆ 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
◆◆ 1½ cups cooked or canned
◆◆ ½ cup marinara sauce ◆◆ ½ cup water
◆◆ Salt and pepper, to taste
and crispy. Add garlic, cumin and smoked paprika and cook for about another 1 to 2 minutes. 4 Place bread and almond mixture into a food processor and pour in the red wine vinegar. Pulse until crumbly and return to skillet. 5 Add the chickpeas, marinara sauce, water and wilted spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 6 Serve on toast or the cooked grain dish of your choice. f
Heather Lawless & Jen Mulqueen’s
GNOCCHI WITH CHICKPEAS A VEGETARIAN TRIPLE THREAT WITH GNOCCHI, SQUASH AND CHICKPEAS THAT’S EASY TO PREPARE IN ONE POT.
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 2 Tbsp vegan butter, divided ◆◆ 1 butternut squash, peeled
with the seeds removed and cut into ½-inch pieces ◆◆ 3 cloves garlic, minced ◆◆ 3 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped ◆◆ ½ Tbsp chili flakes ◆◆ ½ tsp sea salt ◆◆ 1¾ cups vegetable broth ◆◆ ½ cup cooked or canned chickpeas ◆◆ 1 bunch kale, chopped (about 8 cups) ◆◆ Zest and juice from ½ a lemon ◆◆ 1 (500-gram) package of gnocchi ◆◆ ½ cup vegan Parmesan
1 In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter over medium heat. Add the squash and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden and starting to soften. Add the garlic, sage, chili flakes and salt, and cook for another 2 minutes. 2 Add the vegetable broth and, once simmering, reduce heat to low, add the chickpeas, kale, lemon zest, and gnocchi. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted and gnocchi is tender. 3 Uncover and stir in 1 tablespoon of vegan butter, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. 4 Divide among warmed serving bowls and top with remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese. f
Santa Carolina Reserva Merlot Photography: Josh Neubauer
A medium-bodied, dry and tannic red with spicy notes of cinnamon and tobacco balanced with aromas of red fruit. LCBO #324590
BEETS AND HARISSA ONIONS HARISSA ADDS A TOUCH OF EXOTIC SPICE TO THIS DISH OF DEEPLY-FLAVOURED ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES. Method
1 Pour the oil into a bowl large enough to hold the onions. Whisk in the harissa, taste, and add more if desired. Slice off the root and stem ends of the cipollini and remove any skin that comes off easily. Add the onions to the spiced oil, toss well, and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator. 2 Meanwhile, put the beets, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and garlic in a large saucepan, add water to cover by several inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook until the beets are tender enough to be pierced through with a fork, about 25 minutes; check early and often to avoid overcooking. Drain them in a colander, and when they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut them in half (or into quarters if they are large), so they are about the same size as the onions.
Santa Carolina Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
Bight and dry, made from grapes near the Pacific Ocean. Flavours of citrus with minerality. LCBO #337535
Discard the herbs and garlic. 3 Preheat the oven to 400 F. 4 Arrange the onions on a sheet pan, spaced well apart, and roast for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are browned and tender and the remaining skin falls off. Transfer the onions to a cutting board; reserve the spiced oil remaining in the pan, and any bits of onion sticking to it. 5 Cut the onions in half and place in a serving bowl. Add the beets and most of the radicchio ribbons, reserving a few for garnish. Scrape the spiced oil and onion bits from the sheet pan onto the vegetables and toss well. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. f
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 1/4 cup flavorless vegetable oil ◆◆ 1 tsp harissa, plus more if
◆◆ 1 pound cipollini onions
◆◆ 1 pound small yellow beets,
◆◆ 2 dried bay leaves ◆◆ A few fresh thyme sprigs ◆◆ 1 garlic clove, peeled
◆◆ 4 large radicchio leaves, cut
crosswise into 1-inch ribbons
◆◆ Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
◆◆ Flaky salt and freshly ground
◆◆ 1/3 cup small fresh dill sprigs
Photography: Joseph De Leo
COUSCOUS WITH ALLIUM
NOTHING SETS OFF THE MELLOW FLAVOUR OF COUSCOUS LIKE THE SHARPNESS OF THE ONION FAMILY.
ING R E DIE NTS Mix Ingredients ◆◆ 2 to 4 spring onions
◆◆ 2 baby leeks, rinsed ◆◆ 4 scallions
◆◆ Kosher salt
◆◆ 2 cups pearl couscous
◆◆ 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil ◆◆ 1 or 2 stalks green garlic
(depending on size and potency), chopped ◆◆ Freshly ground black pepper ◆◆ 1 cup Watercress Dressing ◆◆ 2 handfuls of frisée, torn into bite-size pieces, or other young greens, such as baby spinach ◆◆ 1/2 cup raw cashews, toasted and roughly chopped
Watercress Dressing Ingredients ◆◆ 1 bunch of watercress ◆◆ 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
◆◆ 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
◆◆ 3/4 cup flavorless vegetable oil ◆◆ Kosher salt ◆◆ Freshly ground black pepper
Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenère
1 Trim the spring onions, leeks and scallions and separate the white parts from the tender greens. Discard any tough outer green leaves. Chop the white parts, and thinly slice the tender green parts on the diagonal. Reserve the white and green parts separately. 2 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, toast the couscous in a dry 9- or 10-inch skillet set over medium heat, stirring often, for about 6 minutes, until light golden brown.
Photography: Joseph De Leo
A dry and wellbalanced wine. Aromas of red fruit with ripe cherries and white pepper.
3 Tip the couscous into the boiling water (set the skillet aside) and cook for about 8 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander and spread on a sheet pan to cool completely, then transfer to a bowl. 4 Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and sauté the chopped white parts of the spring onions, leeks, and scallions and the green garlic, stirring, for several minutes, until softened but still slightly crisp; do not brown. Remove from the heat and stir into the cooled couscous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool. 5 Cut the stems off the watercress. Rinse and dry the leafy tops and remove and discard thicker stems. In the bowl of a food processor (or blender) pulse until finely chopped. Add the mustard and vinegar and pulse. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil, processing until the dressing is smooth. Season to taste. 6 Add half the dressing to the couscous. Add the frisée, sliced allium greens, cashews and more dressing. Toss and serve immediately. f
ADDRESS TO FEMALE CHEFS Toronto chef Lily Hu opens up about her experiences working in male-dominated kitchens.
RE YOU A young woman pursuing a career as a chef? Let me give you a word of warning. You are going to meet some deplorable characters. The food industry in Toronto is a tightlyknit community. Our city’s food identity was shaped by a lineage of chefs, predominately male, who established roots in Toronto’s restaurant scene and were the successors to a hierarchical kitchen structure. Because of this standardized model of work, there are qualities that are inherited and passed down to generations of cooks. This includes psychologically manipulative “teaching” methods. They can be subtle micro aggressions, or different forms of emotional and physical abuse. You have to establish your boundaries. It’s so easy to develop a sense of loyalty to your chef and establishment, that it begins to tie into your sense of self.
You will often be encouraged and sometimes verbally validated for your extra time and overexertion for the cause. With that said, restaurants may rely on unpaid labour to make up for slim profit margins. They say this is in exchange for an educational experience and networking opportunities. But with the rising cost of living, as well as pay inequality, it is harder for women (especially queer people of colour) to make it a sustainable option. The rate of pay ranges from minimum wage to $120 daily. Chefs perpetuate the narrative that they have a hard time finding talent. But they are not disclosing that they would like you to work 16-hour days, five to six days a week while paying you the bare minimum. This is not to say that the responsibility is solely on the chef, but there is a lot of control and power they hold onto to balance the books. I have refused to work on those terms.
Photography: Suresh Doss
Understandably, that comes from a place of privilege. I have the freedom of choice and insight that a lot of young cooks lack. Just like continuously cooking steaks to learn its doneness, I have learned to gauge the safety and culture of a workplace by being able to spot the telltale red flags. Some items on this checklist include: How a chef speaks to all members of staff, the personalities of current employees (you end up spending a lot of time with coworkers), diversity and language (are racial slurs casually thrown around?). I have worked with chefs who have mocked an Asian accent because they are too obtuse to realize that it is derogatory, and rooted in historical oppression. Everyone has biases they need to check themselves on. I am an advocate for documenting these incidents and telling your coworkers. Sometimes a log needs to be created in order for action to be taken. You might not be the first one to have reported the issue, and you might not be the last. Think of the generations of female chefs to follow. Regardless of your gender or workplace, if you witness something that makes you feel uncomfortable, do something about it. Re-direct attention, whether that means inserting yourself physically or verbally, and offering the mistreated person support. I saw a man understand his role as an ally by simply standing silently to act as a physical barrier and it de-escalated the situation. Chefs and management need to recognize and respond to the needs of their staff by holding people accountable for their actions. Change is happening. But until then, reach out to other women in the industry. We are happy to help share our networks. f
First Canadian Place
— PART 2 —
FEAST “THE MODERN CANNABIS CONSUMER IS LOOKING FOR A MORE ELEVATED EXPERIENCE, PUN OBVIOUSLY INTENDED” EAT YOUR GREENS, 040
034 HALLS OF FAME | 040 EAT YOUR GREENS | 46 ON THE LAMB 054 PLOT TO PLATE | 060 COCKTAIL HOUR
HALLS OF FAME
Restaurant entrepreneurs are banding together to open food halls all over the world. Corey Mintz discovers what this means for Torontoâ€™s dining scene. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAYLA ROCCA
Photograph by ###
LEFT: Inspired by markets in Mallorca, Spain, King West’s Campo Food Hall combines retail, take-out and sit-down dining with culinary offerings that shift throughout the day
RISTEN PETTIT CARRIES a plate of crispy duck wings through the cavernous Assembly food hall. Gently placing the dish in front of a group of diners, who have collected three meals from the 17 fast-service restaurants inside Assembly, Pettit heads back to the DaiLo stall. It’s a quiet Monday. With about 150 customers lingering over lunch, manager Pettit can get ahead with prep for the week. Many days, the after-work crowd (there’s a cocktail bar at one end) exceeds lunch. On Thursdays, every seat in the 22,000 square-foot space is often filled. But just a few months ago, after a long construction, Assembly sat empty. “We don’t have power right now,” said its operator, Andreas Antoniou, back in November. “Somewhere along the way a key switch for a transformer didn’t arrive.” No restaurant opens on time. There’s always a delay due to plumbing, wiring, zoning, fire inspection, health inspection or other assorted plagues sent down by whatever wrathful gods to whom restaurateurs pray or do not pray. So when someone tells you they’re going to open 17 restaurants at once, be glad it’s not your money on the line. “I feel pressure,” said Antoniou, who also owns nearby downtown restaurants Los Colibris, El Caballito, El Patio, Little Anthony’s and Estiatorio Volos. “Every day that goes by costs us real dollars in staff, rent, marketing dollars that we’ve expended. We’ll have to reinvest those dollars again as we get closer to opening. It’s a lot of pressure on a lot of people.” Still, though Antoniou and his partners had sunk $8.5 million into the RichmondAdelaide Centre venture, he seemed unfazed. “We believe we’re building something special. So my outlook on the business as a whole has not changed. Three or five months from now, we’re not even going to remember this,” Antoniou says of their timing. Time proved him right. While there is no empirical evidence that Assembly’s success was inevitable, what is certain is that it is something new and part of something bigger. “Although new to Toronto, this is a long-term global trend,” says Hassel Aviles, a culinary consultant and creator of the Toronto Underground Market (2011 to 2014), a food festival and restaurant incubator that was a testing ground for many successful businesses, including Fidel Gastro, Seven Lives Tacos, Bombay Street Food and →
LEFT: Bulldog keeps visitors to Assembly caffeinated and adds a reason to visit the chef’s hall for breakfast
→ La Carnita (which Aviles co-created). “I’ve sat in meetings with a number of Toronto’s top commercial real estate developers and I know of four more food hall projects set to open between now and 2021.” But beyond the bubble of developers and marketers, the average consumer might reasonably question what a food hall is, and how it is any different from a food court. Walk down to the lower level of the Eaton Centre and you won’t be surprised to find an A&W, Freshii, Jimmy the Greek, Teriyaki Experience and New York Fries. The mall calls it an “urban eatery”, but we know a food court when we see one. Food courts are predictably lined with the usual suspects, the corporate chain foodservice providers found in mall after mall. And that predictability, a tenant who pays their rent on time, is what landlords crave. Chains and franchises know what they’re doing. They have experience employing low-skilled staff to pump out inexpensive food at a rapid pace (with more cost-saving automation of labour on the way). They’re not tinkering with recipes. They’ve got
lab-tested consistency. And they have money. These companies can afford the outrageous rents of the financial district. They can weather short-term revenue dips. No landlord worries that Starbucks is going to declare bankruptcy after one poor season. A food hall, on the other hand, is filled with independent operators. In the case of Assembly, Antoniou chose to work with restaurateurs who only had one location.
FOUR MORE FOOD HALL PROJECTS ARE SET TO OPEN BY 2021
“We went out and started eating,” describes Antoniou of the extensive research process. “We began to target what we felt were some of the best in class within each of their niches. I ate 20 pounds of ramen looking for the best one. And we applied that methodology across the city.” Food court operators pay different rent based on their position, how much the landlord wants them there or the perceived profitability of the business. The high end of Toronto’s commercial real estate, Yorkville or Queen West, rents for about $100 a square foot. A small space in the densely trafficked core can be double or triple that. For larger spaces, rent is more commonly calculated based on gross occupancy cost. So a landowner will estimate the earning potential of a tenant and charge them 12 to 15 percent. At Assembly, the chef-owners all pay the same rent, which is based on performance. “If we’re not helping drive people through the door,” says Antoniou of their shared motivation, “we suffer just as much.” Additionally, Assembly has put up 85 per cent of the building costs in exchange for a
IT’S NOT ABOUT 17 CHEFS COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER share of the operators’ revenue. “If you think of any venue that is atgrade, connected to the PATH, that has a patio and that is in the downtown core, every single one of those locations is a chain restaurant, without fail,” says Antoniou, listing the property management companies – Oxford, Brookfield, Cadillac Fairview – that control most of the commercial real estate in downtown Toronto. “So effectively, independent restaurateurs and chefs have been boxed out by the Keg, Moxie’s, Earls, Sir Corp and Oliver & Bonacini.” Antoniou set out to build his version of a food hall, a massive trend even if consumers don’t know it by name. Kickstarted in North America with the launch of New York’s Eataly in 2010, by the end of 2016 there were 96 major food hall projects in the United States, according to data from real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. Assembly mimics some elements of an incubator, with talented restaurateurs gaining access to downtown clientele for a fraction of the investment that it would take to launch independently in the area. Infrastructure costs that make building a restaurant too expensive for small players – exhaust, electrical work, bathrooms, accessibility ramps/lifts – are shared amongst 17 partners rather than each having to build their own. “So it’s not about one of the 17 chefs competing with another one,” says Antoniou. “It’s about us collectively competing for the half million people downtown that are stuck eating at one of the eight similar offerings that are in every single food court.” Amira Becarevic is one of Assembly’s chefowners. Here, the former Chase chef operates
a health-centric eatery called Mira Mira. “I’ve worked in the downtown core for the last six years. I seem to keep ending up in the same six blocks. I think I’ve got my finger on the pulse,” she says. For Becarevic, Assembly is the only way to transition to ownership, while serving the same clientele she has through her career. “Not having the huge investment necessary to open a downtown location or even close to downtown, that’s a huge pull. To be able to afford a sort of co-operative that this is. I don’t want to say safety in numbers, but all of us pulling in the public makes us unique, and a destination.” Landlords, however, don’t make radical changes for fun, or to provide entrepreneurial opportunities. They need a more compelling reason to depart from the dependable Legosnug adjacency of a street or basement lined with Starbucks-Subway combinations. Food courts, however uninspiring, make sense to land owners, developers and property managers. Or they did. The reason for innovation is that they are scared. And what scares them is the threat to retail sales from e-commerce. While Canadian companies can point to a small upturn in sales for 2017, no retailer
is safe from what economists call “death by Amazon”. With the purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods, the American tech company, once merely an online bookseller, continues its march toward an end game of selling us everything. And with economists foretelling a retail apocalypse, property management companies are more open to new ideas. “Retail spaces need to attract a new demographic and increase foot traffic,” says Aviles. “The consumer interest in food is here to stay. It continues to drive people together. Online e-commerce and Amazon alone have changed the game but you can’t buy a social food experience with your Prime account.” A senior manager at Oxford, speaking on background, confirms that they will be watching for an increase of footfall, the amount of people who walk through the doors ever year, as a demonstrable improvement to show their retail tenants. “A traditional leasing process that works for national brands doesn’t apply here and can hinder operators before they even open,” says Aviles. “Without a deep understanding of how to spot the right talent, and applying careful curation, a food hall can lie empty. The space must become a live experience →
RIGHT: To be selected as a vendor at Assembly, chefs were only eligible if they have only one other location, like Nick Liu and DaiLo
LEFT: Rob Bragagnolo put together the plan for Campo but he still gets involved in the day-to-day details of preparing and plating dishes
→ to offer value. Most of the magic required to succeed lies in the strength of your relationships within the food community and industry knowledge of the city’s palate.” Hudson’s Bay/Saks Fifth Avenue declined to comment on the success of their food hall, a partnership with upscale grocery chain Pusateri’s. But if you were in the ghost town of a department store before, and the bustling beehive now, the difference is apparent. Meanwhile in Toronto, Selfridges and Terroni are teaming to open an Eataly in the Manulife Centre. And RioCan is developing the Well at Front and Spadina. Yorkdale Shopping Centre has been experimenting with Concept, a pop-up space with rotating tenants, so far hosting food businesses like Buster’s Sea Cove, Chatime, Uncle Tetsu, Pie Squared and Nadia’s Chocolates. Big players can afford to experiment. For Rob Bragagnolo, everything is on the line. The chef (formerly of Marben) has no corporate backers. Over the last 18 months, Bragagnolo and his family have invested an estimated $2 million of their own money
turning a former furniture store, at the southwest corner of King and Spadina, into the Spanish-themed Campo Food Hall. “You will see spaces that are essentially food courts,” he says, “just called a food hall.” Bragagnolo lived in Spain for 12 years and has based Campo on a market in Mallorca, Mercat de l’Olivar, with a mix of retail, takeout and dining that shifts throughout the day. “So at 7 o’clock in the morning, people are having coffee. Then they’re going for lunch. Then they go back and have drinks and tapas. And it does end up being central to that community,” he explains. Campo is not the behemoth of Assembly. The 2,500 square-foot space, with its distressed tile and gold-rimmed bar, is a tightly packed, carefully lit, food playground, designed to stay packed shoulder-toshoulder at breakfast, lunch and dinner by offering something for people all day long – a bakery, bodega, salad stand and Labora, a 75seat restaurant (all operated by Bragagnolo), plus a couple spaces he’s licensed to ELXR Juice and the Drake General Store.
While they don’t sell groceries, Campo provides reasons – coffee and an apricot bomba in the morning, octopus and potato salad at lunch, a dimly lit dinner – for local condo-dwellers to visit often enough to create what Starbucks-ologists call “a third place between work and home”. The Toronto outpost of Eataly, at 50,000 square feet, will dwarf Campo in size and attention. And Eataly’s expected opening date of 2019 means that Campo and Assembly will do all the heavy lifting of establishing the food hall culture in downtown Toronto. “All eyes are on Assembly and Campo,” says Aviles, “Being Toronto’s first-to-market new generation food halls, most companies are watching and hoping to learn from all of the mistakes made. These teams are hoping to apply lessons to their own projects of what works and what misses the mark with Toronto’s audience.” For major landlords like Oxford, which owns and manages over 50 million square feet of real estate in Canada, this moment is a beachhead, with Assembly and Campo as the expendable infantry. What happens next will guide how they deploy their resources. “There is a lot of opportunity and loss at stake,” Aviles says. “The transformation happening in retail has created a high level of anxiety in the air, almost tangible when you speak to key players. There are eager tigers waiting patiently on the sidelines, ready to pounce when the food hall business model delivers. The model has been proven for centuries around the world but like anything entrepreneurial, it’s not about the idea. Success lies in the execution.” f
CAMPO AND ASSEMBLY WILL ESTABLISH FOOD HALL CULTURE
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EAT YOUR GREENS
Marijuana legalization is coming and Canadians are eschewing the stoner stereotype with infused edibles. Sarah Parniak finds out which entreprenuers are leading the way. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDRO PEHAR
Photograph by ###
LEFT: A final dollop of sauce on top of the indica lava cake ties together a multi-course meal the Food Dudes put on for marijuana card carriers
N A RECENT Saturday night, I had big, vague plans to eat and maybe even drink a bunch of cannabis. Beyond that, I had no clue what to expect. A few days earlier, I’d purchased a ticket for a party from a link in a newsletter I’d signed up for. I was going to a release fête for EP Infusions, a fiveperson indie operation out of Montreal that specializes in gourmet chocolate bars with a particular kick. Lately, EP has added sparkling beverages, packaged in curvy bottles like wine, but with zero alcohol and 60 mg of cannabinoids. Despite EP’s contemporary branding, slick social media presence and reputation for quality, I couldn’t quite nudge stereotypical stoner images from my head. Was I about to walk into a skunky basement full of glassy-eyed kids in drug rugs and rainbow-dreadlocked white girls attempting half-assed hula-hoop tricks in tiedye tights and leg-warmers? If so, the plan was to moonwalk – maybe quite literally – the hell out of there right after sampling some of the infused treats in the name of diligent journalism. But the venue wasn’t smoke-choked or dingy or even hidden. It was a lifestyle shop, and between its exposed brick walls and dramatic vaulted ceilings I found a thrum of stylish, happy people sipping chardonnay and nibbling on skewered prosciutto. With flavour profiles like matcha white chocolate, espresso and dulce de leche, EP’s stunning washi-wrapped bars looked right at home beside Turkish towels, refurbished vintage sideboards and scented candles. While 420 culture – replete with Bob
THE FEAST FEATURED WAGYU “KUSH” BEEF AND AN INDICA LAVA CAKE 42
ABOVE: The sixth course of the Food Dudes’ infused dinner saw slabs of wagyu “kush” beef atop infused gnocchi
Marley posters, crusty happy-face bongs and decimated chip bags – still exists in basements everywhere, the modern cannabis consumer is looking for a more elevated experience, pun obviously intended. “I think it’s only elevation if you look at stereotypical perceptions [about cannabis],” says Roger Mand, who dreamed up EP Infusions three years ago in his kitchen. He still makes and labels his THC- and CBDinfused products, by hand. “For me, being high is about appreciating flavours and visual beauty. Cannabis has always been underground, but it has this deep genetic connection to music, art and design,” Mand explains. “So many products for stoners aren’t ‘nice,’ ” adds Teagan Young, EP’s production manager, pointing out their lineup of artfully wrapped bars as a counterpoint. “Yet there’s a real market for products like ours,” she says of their positioning. But until the Canadian government officially legalizes cannabis, an ongoing process that’s slated to happen this summer, Mand and Young operate their promising business in the grey market. High-design cannabis concept shops like Tweed and Tokyo Smoke, which are owned by licensed marijuana producers (there are currently 90 in Canada) are lying in wait until they can legally sell cannabis flower and eventually, other consumables. In the meantime, independent artisans without glossy showrooms are working hard in the shadows to get their products to consumers that want – and need – them. Angelina Blessed makes a line of vegan and gluten-free low-sugar treats under the label Blessed. As a professional mixed martial arts fighter dealing with pain from past injuries, she wanted to offer athletes and other relief-seekers a health-conscious alternative to pharmaceutical painkillers. Blessed’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie won second best edible in Canada at the 2018 Lift Awards, and Blessed also makes a super Instagrammable sprinkledusted Simpson’s doughnut that’s vegan and baked, instead of deep-fried. Despite the thoughtful branding, the business remains a labour of love. “There’s no money being made at this point. This is about putting a good quality, lab-tested product on the market and making sure that patients are getting what they need, because the access just isn’t there,” Blessed says to explain her motivation. “I can offer a perfectly-dosed vegan,
WE’RE LOOKING TO TAKE THE EDIBLE CANNABIS MARKET BY THE HORNS gluten-free chocolate bar made by one of the best chocolatiers in [Toronto] to someone who needs it. Many people in the craft cannabis industry are not recreational; we’re trying to help others.” Blessed gets a surge of emails daily from cancer patients and mothers seeking infused treats for their epileptic children, and perhaps surprisingly, from women in the 30 to 50 age bracket who don’t want to stand outside smoking a joint, but still want to relax without turning to wine or valium. Despite demand, Blessed is officially sold out until legalization. Blessed says she needs to cover herself so that she can continue business once “the government of Canada hopefully gets their shit together.” While many craft companies focus on edible cannabis as a more natural medical alternative, the opportunity to earn a profit in the burgeoning world of edibles – and the “cannabiz” at large – is an undeniable motivator for companies entering the market. Matt Wowk, part of the Food Dudes and partner in Toronto restaurants like Rasa and the forthcoming Tara and Blondie’s Pizza concepts, plans to drop a line of low-dosage, vegan, sugar-free treats – like gingery CBDinfused lollipops – once legalization hits. Wowk and his business partner, Adrian Niman, have several projects on the go, but breaking into infused foods is a huge priority. “The edible cannabis scene is really what we’re looking to take by the horns,” Wowk says of their strategic priority. “We know it’s coming and we want to be the first people there.” Wowk and Niman collaborated on a canna dinner in February with online cannabis resource, Hempster. The guests, ten Canadian war and →
→ service veterans with cards for medical marijuana prescriptions, sat down to a seven-course feast featuring a stoned and smoked branzino with green pea weed purée and winter succotash, wagyu kush beef and a decadent indica lava cake with chocolate passionfruit ganache and liquid nitrogen ice cream to cap things off. All portions were carefully dosed according to the individual requirements of each diner. Consuming cannabis no longer has to be a crapshoot that could result in a terrifying 12-hour trip, but can be a scientifically controlled experience that offers daily relief and relaxation to a swelling spectrum of consumers. In many ways, it’s also the future.
WITH EDIBLES, YOU CAN CHOOSE THE DOSAGE TO PURSUE THE EFFECT YOU WANT
“Smoking a joint carries more of a stigma, but [edibles] are more appealing and more accessible – you can choose the dosage to pursue the kind of effect you want,” Wowk explains. “I think edibles and vaping are going to be the two main ways of consuming marijuana in the next ten years.” Cannabis catering, then, makes sense. Wowk plans to do more cannabis food events as long as they’re in the legal sphere, and other prominent Toronto chefs like Charlotte Langley have hosted private dinners. Even the upscale Soho House held a collaborative dinner with Tokyo Smoke. Once prototypical edibles like crumbly greenish brownies are déclassé and passé, now that traditional wine and spirits agencies
CONSUMING CANNABIS NO LONGER HAS TO BE A TERRIFYING 12-HOUR TRIP
LEFT: Marijuana infusions vary in potency depending on the method, strain and part of the plant used
see massive potential in adding cannabis sales to their business plan. Lisa Campbell, “a badass lady in the cannabiz,” according to the popular online cannabis resource, Leafly, used to run Green Market, an underground marketplace for specialty products and a hub for makers, artisans and members of the growing Canadian cannabis community. Green Market, which stopped running events earlier this year due to mounting liability issues, mostly showcased edibles, which Campbell also sees as one of the most promising sectors in cannabis. As of March, she’s the brand new cannabis portfolio specialist for Lifford Wine & Spirits, an established national agency that this year
is adding both beer and weed to their more traditional portfolio. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest from Licensed Producers now that provincial regulations are coming out, and it’s looking like cannabis will be distributed similarly to alcohol,” Campbell says. “I’ve heard that edibles may be on the shelves of the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, or OCRC, as well as [infused] beverages, but it’s just rumours at this point.” The Attorney General has announced that cannabis lounges will be considered in the second phase of legalization, and the AGCO will be in charge of laying out the licensing structure, which will regulate them. Although it’s not likely that cannabis will be co-located beside alcohol in Ontario anytime soon, Campbell notes that several provinces in Eastern Canada will be allowing co-location and in an industry so young and disruptive, nothing is fixed. “Ultimately, I think it should be about consumer choice. If we’re at a restaurant, you should be able to order your cannabis beverage and I can have my glass of wine – it shouldn’t be a problem,” Campbell says. As independent producers and cannacorporations gear up for legalization, expect a torrent of innovation to create new products and design ways of marketing them. “People are building up these cool brand and niche products, like EP Infusions and Canna Cocoa, which make beautiful handpainted chocolates,” Campbell says. “And big companies like Canopy Growth Corp have patents and trademarks for all of these brand new products.” In an ironic twist, old-school treat factories are finding new life as grow ops and production facilities for licensed producers.
Tweed has set up shop in the former Hershey Chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, and CannabisCo recently purchased the old Nestlé plant in Chesterville. Post-industrial towns are transforming into cannabis hubs. The Hamilton area has four licensed producers and Campbell describes what was once Steeltown as the new dispensary capital of Ontario. It seems that the benefits of ingesting cannabis penetrate beyond mind, body and soul and deep into the Canadian economy. f (Mand, Young and Blessed are not the real names of cannabis company owners or employees.)
ABOVE: The Food Dudes’s co-owner and head chef Adrian Niman designed and executed the seven-course infused dinner
ON THE LAMB
Toronto photographers Chris Sue-Chu and Alyssa Wodabek, known as Suech and Beck, capture Irelandâ€™s rural landscapes and organic farming operations.
LEFT: Lambing season in Dingle, a port town in southwest Ireland, runs from March to May. Here, farmers had just poured grain feed into a trough to encourage a small flock of sheep to gather for their lunch.
ABOVE: Seamus, a sheep farmer in Dingle, was born and raised in the region. His dogs, Scout and Floss, help with the herding duties for his flock of sheep.
BELOW: The Dingle Peninsula is known for its rugged scenery and sandy beaches. The stone walls, in this scene along Slea Head Drive, delineate farmersâ€™ properties.
Photograph by ###
BELOW: Kerry cattle, known for producing quality milk with a high fat content, are a breed native to Ireland. This herd in Cloughjordan, three hours northeast of Dingle, supplies a community farm with fresh milk.
LEFT: Crawfordâ€™s Farm, in Tipperary, uses holistic farming methods such as rotating animals in pasture and growing all feed on premises.
Photograph by ###
ABOVE: Sheep roam the fields of Connemara, a mountainous region on Irelandâ€™s west coast. Farmers use colour markings to keep track of their sheep among neighbouring herds.
PLOT TO PLATE
Suresh Doss sits down with acclaimed Toronto chef Carl Heinrich to discuss how working on a rural farm added a veg chapter to his nose-to-tail cooking. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SURESH DOSS
HERE WAS A time, not too long ago, when farm-to-table was the bragworthy movement in Toronto, and chefs scoured all corners of Ontario’s farmland for ingredients they could list, in detail, on their menus. The locavore movement may have waned over the last few years, but to chef Carl Heinrich, the concept of provenance is more important than ever. His five-year-old restaurant, Richmond Station, doesn’t preach local cuisine, it celebrates it. Now, the chef behind one of the city’s best nose-to-tail eateries has a new obsession: vegetable farming. I sat down with Heinrich to chat about completing the picture. Tell me about your first memorable interaction with a local producer. It was when I was working at Cowbell Restaurant. This was sometime in 2010. I met the owners of New Farm, Gillian Flies and Brent Preston. Brent had written a memoir about how he started the New Farm. It was a tale of two “city-iots” that decided to be farmers. Brent had never planted food. They read all the books and wanted to make a go at it. At first, they were very unsuccessful. Farming is crazy hard work. They partnered up with a company called 100km Foods, which started around the same time, and started to approach chefs in Toronto with their produce. When I met them, they were just really excited. So, they were bringing produce straight to the restaurant’s door? Yes, it worked beautifully and organically. The basis of the food was always quality food that chefs wanted to buy. If anything, they had a hard time keeping up with chefs that wanted to feature their ingredients. When they started, they had 80 varieties of food. Soon they narrowed it down to a half-adozen key ingredients, everything you need for salad greens. They figured that in order for the farm to be sustainable, they needed to focus on specific crops.
Photograph by ###
ABOVE: Toronto chef Carl Heinrich behind the chef’s pass at his acclaimed Richmond Station restaurant
From what I understand, Brent and Gill were also encouraging chefs to visit the farm during the early stages. Their ethos was that they wanted the chefs to get as close to the growing process as possible. Back then they were raising pigs. So my butcher Ryan [Donovan] and I would head up there to help slaughter animals and process the meat. Once a year, we would go up and bring more cooks with us. It
blossomed into a growing relationship with Ryan and me as we moved from Cowbell to Marben, and then we opened Richmond Station. They would host us three to four times a year; we started to spend a lot of time on the farm. Most chefs, after spending five years working in a restaurant, they move on to a gig at a new restaurant. It’s the greatest job in the world, but I needed something else. I also needed to give my chef Hayden Johnston a chance to spread his wings and take on a bigger role in the restaurant. At the same time, we have always been known as a meat-heavy restaurant. It’s not necessarily because we only serve meat, or that we buy more meat, I think it’s because we buy whole animals. We don’t buy steaks, bone, fat. We don’t buy breasts or bacon. We buy pigs, steer, whole trout, ducks. We only buy directly from the person that grows it. We are probably more farm-to-table than anybody who runs a restaurant of this size. What was missing is the same kind of relationship with vegetables? Yes, but deeper. Ten years ago, knowing the name of the farm was good enough. It’s still fine today, but for me, that wasn’t good enough. I wanted to know more about farming. What are the proper soil and climate conditions for growing small to medium sized tomatoes? How about sunchokes? There was a part of our restaurant culture that was missing. We don’t buy meat unless we go to that farm first. I can tell you in great detail about the meat that we buy. I couldn’t necessarily tell you that about our vegetables. I was missing something in my education. My wife and manager here at Richmond Station, Julia (Ayearst), decided that we wanted to move to Creemore last year. →
IT WAS A TALE OF TWO “CITYIOTS” THAT WANTED TO BE FARMERS 55
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→ To work at the New Farm? We first approached our staff, and they were fully supportive. Julia and I then approached Brent and Gill. I was expecting to be cutting greens and cleaning potatoes with the labourers that work their farm. But what they had in mind was that we would grow a separate garden. Their vision was for me to take full advantage of the chef’s garden. Chefs have this idyllic dream of becoming a farmer, but in reality, it’s back-breaking work. You’re not a farmer. You’re a chef. What was going through your head? At first, I thought what an incredible opportunity. Selfishly, it doesn’t get better than that. You’re right; I’m not a farmer. A farmer relies on crops to produce an income. A gardener doesn’t. So, I was a gardener. I didn’t know anything when it came to sowing seeds. Do you put fertilizer [in with them]? Do you germinate? It took the whole summer to learn. I worked on the farm five days a week on a garden about an acre and a half in size. My team would come up [for] an event, or to help out and pick and weed.
There must have been some challenges with your first season as a gardener. Most things worked, some things didn’t. Last year was an incredibly wet summer which had its difficulties but also had its benefits. 2016 was very dry and hot. Even irrigation was a huge thing. I didn’t have to water the garden once. So things that worked really well were herbs – the herb garden was insane. We grew 20 different varieties of herbs, and five varieties of edible flowers. The food we serve here is very herb-focused. To cook it up there and be inspired by the garden, was insane. [We grew] things like Mexican marigolds, milkweed pods and nasturtiums. [We were] inspired by walking in the garden. On the other hand, after all the rain was done, every tomato plant I planted was destroyed by blight. It was fast and it was furious. We had 100 plants out there, and it was so much work. Blight is moving further north with climate change. Our tomatoes didn’t work at all. But it was mostly highlights. What were some of the biggest highlights? The entire process had its highlights. For
LEFT: Greenhouses are crucial to the New Farm’s year-round production, creating veggies that make their way directly to Toronto chefs
You mentioned that a lot of produce was heading back to the restaurant. What was the response like with your staff? We were bringing back height-of-the-season [produce], 200 lbs of vegetables a week. The crew was overwhelmed, to say the least because our storage at the Toronto restaurant isn’t great. We had so much Swiss chard, carrots, tomatoes, squash, radishes and cabbage. We would pick that morning, and it would be at the restaurant that afternoon. The cooks were experiencing the same euphoria. I kept hearing: “I don’t have to do anything it, already tastes so good.”
anyone that hasn’t done it before, [sowing] a seed and waiting for it to grow into something edible, was the biggest highlight. For me, learning how to use the whole plant was also a new step in my career, from seed pods in radishes to leaves from carrot plants. It sounds like you approached gardening with the same nose-to-tail ethos that you apply to preparing meat. Absolutely. But it was also about picking the vegetable at the right point. Understanding when it was appropriate to pick something became key. Sometimes, when creating a menu at the farm, we would consciously harvest a plant at a key point in the growing season to get the flavour profile we wanted. Beans change daily. It was some of the best food I have cooked in my entire life. Most of it was vegan. You didn’t need butter; you don’t need meat. You slice up cherry tomatoes, sweat out some onions, add some oil and boil it for three minutes. You get this beautiful shiny sauce. It blew my mind. You had to pick the tomatoes right then; you had to pick it and serve it right then.
That’s a level of connectedness to the source that most chefs don’t experience. To think that most times when chefs order vegetables they were grown by someone you don’t know; picked somewhere you’ve never been; picked when super under-ripe; packaged however dirty or clean; thrown onto a refrigerator truck; onto another refrigerator truck; on a plane. It has switched hands four or five times. Then you pick a case and you don’t know how old it is and how far it’s been, or for sure what it has been sprayed with. Maybe people are getting sick now because of all the chemicals that go into growing our food. Was that something you had considered before your New Farm experience? I was aware, but I was on the fence. I couldn’t tell you whether organic or non-organic tastes better. Farming practices are better, but I couldn’t tell. But the pesticides, that was eye-opening. Learning about systemic →
USING THE WHOLE PLANT WAS A NEW STEP IN MY CAREER 57
SAUVIGNON BLANC R E S E R VA 2 0 1 7
$14.95 #974717 Always available in Vintages and LCBO.com
ABOVE: Heinrich harvested carrots from his garden and has plated them with the chick weeds that grew alongside
→ pesticides and how seeds are produced with fungicides and pesticides already in them. So that when they grow, another spray comes over top and kills everything on the field except for the thing that is inside the seed. And then we eat that, what does it do to our guts? Our brains? And our kids? I can’t prove that, and maybe the proof is out there. Organic farming is the fastest growing sector in a long time. Same with local. What you’re going to see in the next decade [is] people are going to prove that if you don’t eat organic food you’re in serious trouble. Is this the solution for a more sustainable food system? That every restaurant should have a garden somewhere? I’m behind. I’m learning from other chefs. The best chefs have already done that, knowing the exact provenance of where your food comes from. For us, understanding where the veg comes from was huge. But, we wouldn’t come close to being sustainable with just one acre. We would need 100 acres on full tilt. Here at the restaurant, we are serving 300 people on a daily basis, almost
2,000 a week. We couldn’t come close to providing the restaurant with all the food that it needs. I’m not a farmer; I don’t want to do 100 acres. But what staging at New Farm has allowed me to do is learn about my vegetables and what they look like. The education of understanding that when I buy stuff, I have a deeper understanding of what things taste like and what seed was used to get it to this shape.
Is this what your events are trying to share? Brent and Gill created a kitchen on the farm. It sprouted from hosting chefs and restaurants up there. The idea evolved to hosting events where diners have a direct understanding of where the food comes from when you’re up there. You’re eating ingredients that were picked 50 feet away. We launched an event series last year to bring up guest chefs, and we’re continuing this year. Some are for fun; some are for charity.
YOU’RE EATING INGREDIENTS THAT WERE PICKED 50 FEET AWAY
Are you heading back to the farm this year? The restaurant will have a garden again at the New Farm. We’ve learned from our mistakes last year and we’re coming at it with a focus. The goal is to get to a point where we will be featuring as much as possible from the farm when the growing season starts. There are a lot of vegetable-focused restaurants in Toronto now, and that’s a beautiful thing. I think we are at a disadvantage for vegan culture. The ground is frozen four months of the year. To do a fully local vegan menu here would be really tough. But, as a restaurant we need to know more about vegetables. f
COCKTAIL HOUR Rather than coasting on the hotel’s reputation, Toronto Ritz-Carlton’s head bartender, Francisco Iturraran pushes himself to develop new creations. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SURESH DOSS
HE RITZ BAR at Toronto’s RitzCarlton has always been a hotspot for celebrity sightings and glitzy gatherings. To go with its luxurious setting and VIP clientele, the Ritz Bar has built a reputation as one of the city’s best cocktail bars. The Ritz Bar stands out from other Toronto hotel bars for its inventive and fun take on drinks. The cocktails are as lively and exciting as the space you’re in. Often that means a modernist approach to riffing on classic cocktails. In the past, there was a menu of champagne cocktails that were created using infusions and liquid nitrogen. Recently, bartenders have started to play with Latin American ingredients. Head bartender, Francisco Iturraran, hails from Lima, Peru. After spending nearly 15 years bartending in Miami, he moved to Toronto to join the team at the Ritz-Carlton. Today, Iturraran manages one of the most interesting cocktail programs in the city. The creative beverage menu reflects his cultural background and the diversity of the city. “The drinks that I have created here are a combination of my journey from Lima to Miami to Toronto. There are Canadian flavours mixed with Latin American ingredients and special liquors”. Iturraran crafts his drinks with a sense of tropicality that you don’t often find. His drinks are designed to be light and refreshing, with a tongue-in-cheek take on familiar standbys. Iturraran incorporates tropical juices, ingredients like agave syrup and Mexican chocolate bitters and a variety of regional mescals into his cocktail recipes. “My passion is for people. I hope that with this list, you’re able to recreate a sense of Miami and Latin America in your home.” f
LA DAME BLANCHE INGREDIENTS ◆◆ 2 oz Bombay Sapphire gin ◆◆ 1/2 oz cointreau ◆◆ 1/2 oz lime juice ◆◆ 1 oz egg white
Photograph by ###
Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake without ice. Add ice, shake again, strain into a coupette and garnish with an edible flower.
NEGRONI BLANC IN G R ED IEN TS ◆◆ 1 oz Botanist gin ◆◆ 1 oz Bitter Bianco ◆◆ 1/2 oz dry vermouth ◆◆ 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add a king ice cube and stir. Serve in a double rocks glass, garnished with a grapefruit twist.
WEST ON WELLINGTON IN G R ED IEN TS ◆◆ 11/2 oz Grey Goose vodka ◆◆ 1/2 Calvados brandy ◆◆ 1/2 agave syrup ◆◆ 3 oz pear nectar ◆◆ 1 fresh lime wheel
Combine and shake all ingredients, except lime. Pour mixture over ice in a burgundy wine glass. Garnish with fresh lime wheel.
Photograph by ###
GALICIAN-STYLE OCTOPUS ◆◆ 2 cooked octopus legs ◆◆ 300 g potatoes
◆◆ Paprika, to taste ◆◆ 1 Tbsp olive oil ◆◆ Salt, to taste
Method 1 Cook the potatoes in salted water. Once cooked, peel, cut into thick medallions and set aside. 2 Cut the octopus into slices, sear lightly in a pan and set aside. 3 On a wooden plate, arrange the potatoes, place the octopus on top and season with paprika, salt and olive oil.
A TASTE OF SPAIN
Visit the LCBO’s Spanish aisle to experience the vibrant, expressive wines of Campo Viejo and discover how they can enhance your next Spanish meal or get-together.
PAIN HAS LONG been revered for its fascinating history, delicious cuisine and vibrant culture. Short of hopping on a plane and venturing across the Atlantic, the next best place to experience a taste of Spain in the city is heading to the LCBO’s Spanish aisle. There, you’ll discover the country’s incredible range of expressions, from ruby-red tempranillos with a ripe fruit character to bright garnachas, bursting with berry flavours.
In Rioja, the country’s largest winegrowing region and the home of the revered tempranillo grape, Campo Viejo crafts refined wines that encompass the region’s history in each glass. Campo Viejo brings Rioja’s timehonoured traditions into the modern age with its sustainable practises (it’s Spain’s first carbon neutral winery). Uniquely, all of the winemakers at Campo Viejo are female and carry their passion for great wine into each bottle.
Campo Viejo Tempranillo is a soft, fresh wine with red fruit aromas while Campo Viejo Reserva is a complex pour balanced with fruit and wood notes. Whether you’re enjoying delicious Spanish seafood (like the Galician-style octopus recipe, above) or catching up with friends, Campo Viejo infuses any experience with the vibrancy of Spain. ●
SPAIN, no passport
Find us in the Spanish aisle at your LCBO.
A CULTURAL FEAST With a G Adventures trip through Thailand, you’ll have once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences, trek through awe-inspiring landscapes and meet locals along the way.
MAGINE TUCKING INTO a four-starworthy meal amid the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis halfway around the world. Or picture lunch in the lush, secluded wild, surrounded by all the natural wonders a new destination has to offer. You’re bound to have both of these once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences on a G Adventures tour to Thailand, where mouth-watering local food and incredible citylife meets ancient culinary tradition and awe-inspiring landscapes. So if you thought Thailand was just a beach-lover’s paradise (and it is that, too, of course), think again. Picture this: you’ll start your trip in Bangkok, taking in the sights, smells, stories and tastes of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. You’ll get the chance to try some of the world’s most delicious (and most affordable) foods from street vendors and local eateries. In between, you’ll check out some of the planet’s most striking Buddhist temples before tucking in to a floating rafthouse for a night’s sleep like no other. Just a few days later, you’ll find
yourself at Chiang Mai’s famous night market, enticed by seemingly endless late-night bites. The next morning, you’ll venture into the city’s surrounding farmland, trekking though beautiful bamboo and teak forests. Lunch is in the village of the Lahu tribe, one of the many tribes that inhabits Thailand’s northern hills, all of whom have different languages and traditions. The next day, you’ll learn about seasonal fruits and local medicines, stopping to enjoy more meals and to take in the scenery along the way. G Adventures believes travel is more than just where you go – it’s who you meet, what you learn and what you take home with you. Sure, you’ll want to bask on Thailand’s famous beaches. But the country, from its bustling cities to its remarkable northern hills, is a cultural feast for the senses. ●
CONGRATULATIONS! A big congrats to escapism reader Karen Bonilla for winning a trip for two to Thailand. Her prize includes round-trip airfare with an eight-day tour in Northern Thailand. The prize was made possible by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and G Adventures.
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “IN ARIZONA, IT SEEMS LIKE THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING IN SEASON” THE FERTILE DESERT, 068
068 THE FERTILE DESERT | 084 BOTTLE SERVICE | 091 THE NOSTALGIST 093 THE DIGEST | 094 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
THE FERTILE DESERT Andrea Yu ventures along the fringes of Arizonaâ€™s Sonoran Desert and discovers arid landscapes, farms and orchards bearing an unexpected array of crops.
Photograph by ###
ABOVE: Long table dinners hosted by Cloth & Flame incorporate ingredients from nearby Arizona farmers and producers
ABOVE: Arizona was once a major grower for Sunkist
F ALL THE cacti in the Sonoran Desert, there’s one in particular I’m keeping my distance from. Not that an accidental encounter with any spiky species would be welcome (plucking cacti spines from one’s skin is a rite of passage for any Arizonan, I’m told), but I was warned about one especially menacing cactus called the cholla. Its nickname – the jumping cactus – comes from what it does if you so much as brush up against this menacing succulent. Somewhat like the persistent latchings of dried burrs (but with much more pain and, well, blood), a dill pickle-sized portion of the cholla will detach itself and cling onto your clothing or exposed flesh. So I’m surprised that our desert guide, through the Fort McDowell Yavapi Nation lands, a particularly arid but picturesque portion of the Sonoran, tells us that native populations of the desert have used the cholla as a source of food.
To demonstrate this, Cowboy Don, as he prefers to be called, wrangles a segment of the cholla. It’s skewered at the edge of a pocket knife that he’s grasping with a construction-gloved hand. The key to taming the cholla lies in many
A DILLPICKLE SIZED PORTION OF THE CACTUS WILL CLING ONTO CLOTHING
of your pockets. With a small lighter, Don sets the cactus segment on fire, the flames spreading quickly as the spikes curl under the heat and wither away. Once the fire dies, Don slices the cholla in half lengthwise and carves out individual segments of cactus flesh for us to taste. It’s incredibly slimy and juicier than I would have expected desert produce to be, with a hue of a cucumber that’s had its skin just barely peeled and a similar, but firmer, texture. It shouldn’t come as a surprise how juicy the cholla flesh is as the Sonoran is one of the wettest deserts on the globe. The succulent is particularly adept at retaining moisture from every raindrop that falls near its roots. But thankfully, there’s tastier vegetation growing along the fringes of the Sonoran, as I discover during my time in Arizona. It didn’t take much of a trek to stumble across one of the characteristic food exports of the region. On a leisurely run in the residential neighbourhood around my accommodations in Mesa, a suburb just
northeast of Phoenix, my usual jogging pace has slowed considerably as I’m distracted by the vegetation growing on front lawns (while also trying not to trip over myself ). It takes all my self-restraint not to reach over a fence or property line and pluck a juicy orange – yes, orange – off of the trees that proliferate among the homes of local Arizonans. I might expect to spot citrus casually growing in a Florida or California backyard, but I’m surprised to see them here. I’m visiting at the peak of the citrus harvest, so these oranges are at their orangest, ripe and ready for picking. Arizona is, in fact, a major citrus grower and used to be one of Sunkist’s largest during the 1950s and 60s. The state’s biggest and oldest orchard (and a former Sunkist partner) is now a family-run farm known as B&B Citrus. It supplies citrus to local grocers but it attracts significant foot traffic from visitors and Arizonans that make a point of seeking out their sweet citrus offerings. Maybe I’ve been influenced or charmed by the story I’ve just heard, but I’m convinced that the sample slice of navel orange is the tastiest segment of citrus I’ve had in recent memory. It’s fresh, juicy and sweet. Logic and reasoning about the amount of citrus I’m able to consume during a five-day vacation go out the window as I fill a bag full of navel oranges, Minneola tangelos and grapefruits. I’m certain I can extend this affair with the state’s unofficial fruit as long as possible. Another unexpected crop appears as I venture south along the outskirts of Mesa and into Gilbert where 7,500 olive trees, sprawled out over 120 acres, are grown and milled on-site. The history of Queen Creek Olive Mill isn’t as long – the Rea family moved here in 1997 from Detroit (they lived in London, Ontario prior to that) – but they’ve managed to make a significant impact on the community. They produce Arizona’s only 100 per cent extra virgin olive oil from over a dozen different olive varieties originating from Greece, Italy, Spain and California. Unlike many of these regions, the warmer winter weather in Arizona helps extend the growing season of the olives. Their gift shop is bustling with a non-stop flow of customers when we visit. As well, the café and bistro are popular destinations, with the menu incorporating the viscous green liquid into many of the options, including a decadent array of cupcakes. But the best way to experience olive oil is to taste the unadulterated stuff. Their “robust” oil, made from early-harvest olives,
AGRITOPIA IS EQUAL PARTS IMPRESSIVE PLANNING AND SCIENCE FICTION IN ITS EXECUTION still green from the tree, results in a bold and peppery oil while their “delicate” oil that uses olives left to ripen in the sun has a smooth and nutty flavour. Olive harvest runs from October to November, so I, unfortunately, miss it during my mid-winter visit, but it’s easy to envision the chaos that ensues in Queen Creek’s milling room once the olives are ready for picking. Their robustly flavoured oil is best
pressed fresh off the tree so their milling machine, imported from Turkey, runs 24-7 during peak harvest season. The demand is so high for Arizona olive oil that they source crops from nearby farmers to meet their production requirements. But further south in Gilbert, I discover that not all of the farms in the region have stuck to traditional growing practices. One of the most interesting operations I visited had its humble beginnings as a hay farm (fun fact: Gilbert, Arizona was once known as the Hay Capital of the World). Joe Johnson’s parents bought land here in 1960 and when he took over the farm in the 2000s, Johnson transformed the property into a new-age planned community with 452 residential plots built with low fences and shared spaces to encourage communication between neighbours. The concept, called Agritopia, is equal parts impressive planning and science fiction in its execution. But one element of Agritopia that feels a little more familiar, at least to us city-dwelling Torontonians, is a facility called Barnone that is set up in a former grain storage structure. The facility’s organizers invited ten local entrepreneurs to operate small businesses →
ABOVE: Arizona’s desert climate and warmer winters extend the state’s olive growing season
AMONG THE CACTI, A TABLE IS SET AND A RUSTIC CART IS SERVING TOM COLLINS → in the facility. An independent hairdresser
ABOVE: A former grain storage facility now hosts a food and artisan community called Barnone
of a small airport (specializing in hang glider flights, of all things) for our dinner guide to escort us to our destination. It requires venturing off the main road onto a side street, and off the side street into the desert proper. Among the splendour of cacti and the unique landscape of the southwest, a long table is set up with a rustic cart serving Tom Collins to guests who have already arrived for the evening. The meal is strategically timed. As we’re finishing our first course – a bright salad of cucumber, tomatoes and radishes (many of which are locally grown in the farming regions we just visited) the sun is just beginning to set. The sky, slowly turning dark, glows in a similarly impressive array of hues to rival our dish. Saguaro cacti – the iconic
symbols of Arizona with their cartoonish curved arms – tower in the background. As daylight escapes us, fairy lights strung over the dinner table come to life, as does the conversation with my 30-plus crew of dinner companions thanks to the cocktails and glasses of Arizonian wine (from Agritopia’s Garage East) we’ve swilled. In the middle of dessert (in the middle of the desert), the music and lights turn off abruptly. For a second I worry that the generator powering our off-the-grid experience may have died, prematurely cutting our evening short. Our dinner organizer rushes over. He’s shut off the power on purpose to draw our attention to the moon. It has just risen above the horizon, glowing a bright orange hue and appearing distinctly larger than life. Above, an incredible blanket of twinkling lights has illuminated the night sky and just for a moment, I forget about the potentially hazardous cacti that surround me. But, I’m still going to stay firmly planted in my seat until the power comes back on. f
sits across from a greeting card maker, while a meeting space at the end of the building hosts workshops and meetings. Diagrams above a work table show detailed line drawings of a deli slicer and the KitchenAid Mixer – appliances which Johnson’s great-grandfather Herbert, an engineer, invented in the early 1900s. The collaboration and fluidity between the various artisans in Barnone are most evident among its food and drink operations – 12 West Brewing, a pizzeria called Fire and Brimstone and a winery in an adjacent garage. Seating at the pizzeria is limited, so we opted for a seat at the winery, called Garage East. The pizzeria staff had no qualms about walking our pies over to us when ready as it must be a common request. Once a colourful starter salad, replete with shaved heirloom carrots, beets, radishes and fennel lands on our table, our server at the winery can’t help but gush about it being his favourite on the menu, boasting about how all the vegetables in the dish are grown in Agritopia. Toronto’s harvest season is fleeting, reaching its peak for a few short months in late summer. But in Arizona, it seems like there’s always something in season. During our last evening, the experience comes full circle as we’re back in the desert, en route to a “super secret outdoor location.” We wait in the parking lot
Reposado available at the LCBO (#364877)
Each Clase Azul piece, hand-made and hand-painted is literally touched by the human spirit, inspired by traditional Mexican values.
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— STONELEIGH —
A SIP OF SPRING IN THE CITY A FOODISM GUIDE
A ZEST FOR WINE
With dominant tropical notes of passionfruit and grapefruit, Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing, versatile wine perfect for celebrating the best of spring.
A Photography: Grapes by Jim Feng
S THE FIRST green shoots break through garden beds and buds appear on trees, spring is the season when we emerge from hibernation. While we shed our winter jackets and enjoy the longer days, we’re also saying “cheers” to spring with refreshing glasses of Stoneleigh Wine. Nurtured with the spirit of the land, Stoneleigh wines are crafted in New Zealand’s famed Marlborough Region. There, Stoneleigh grapes grow on soils that once formed the base of an ancient
river. Sunstones still remain here among the vines, which help reflect the Marlborough sunshine into the grapes, slowly releasing its warmth. This radiant heat helps to ripen the fruit and contributes to the unique character of Stoneleigh Wines. Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc bursts with tropical fruit flavours, passion fruit and grapefruit. It’s a versatile white wine that you can serve as an aperitif or pair with seafood, white meat and fresh summer salads.
The vibrancy of Stoneleigh Wines make them an ideal match for chef Mark McEwan’s creations. At his restaurants (ByMark, North 44, ONE, Fabbrica), chef McEwan’s creative recipes bring out the unique character of Stoneleigh Wines. Whether you’re enjoying a delicious springtime dish in the city or recreating one of chef McEwan’s signature dishes at home, Stoneleigh Wines help you savour the best of the season. ● Find Stoneleigh Wines at the LCBO and select grocery stores across Ontario.
ONE RESTAURANT Among the streets of one of Toronto’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, ONE is a buzzing hotspot that impresses with its stunning modern decor. When the sun is shining, ONE’s tree-lined patio envelops your wining and dining experience with the freshness of spring. 116 Yorkville Ave.
BYMARK Yabu Pushelberg’s vibrant design creates a stunning backdrop that’s at once contemporary and classic. It beautifully matches the timelessness of Bymark’s menu of dishes that showcase seasonal ingredients through ambitious plates. 66 Wellington St. W.
KELLY’S LANDING While patio season might still be a few weeks away, a glass rooftop above the main dining room at Kelly’s Landing lets in plenty of springtime sunshine. A menu of shareable comfort favourites like carbonara combine with lighter fare such as a seared tuna salad. 123 Front St.
EAST THIRTY SIX Step back in time at this prohibition-era bar and restaurant which takes inspiration from movies like the Great Gatsby in its decor and ambiance. The food menu showcases quality dishes such as grilled squid and octopus, sourced from ocean-friendly options. 36 Wellington St. E.
THE KEG One of the most unique dining experiences in the city is at the Keg Mansion, situated in the Euclid Hall â€“ a heritage residence built in 1868. Among these historic confines, Torontonians can enjoy the Kegâ€™s signature steaks, grilled to taste, along with fresh lobster. 55 Jarvis St.
Photograph by ###
This casual yet upscale eatery located just across from Union Station invites visitors, Bay Streeters and local residents alike into its stylish dining space complete with leather banquettes and cushy nooks. The menu here features globally-inspired items using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The weekend brunch, featuring items such as spinach and feta shakshouka, is not to be missed. 33 Yonge St.
R E STAU R A N T S
RAISE A GLASS Toast the spring season with crisp glasses of Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc at these Toronto bars and restaurants. 77
R E C I PES
SPRING IN THE KITCHEN Lobster is a wonderful dish to usher in spring. Here are two ways that chef Mark McEwan serves the crustacean. Each pairs beautifully with Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc.
LOBSTER EGGS FLORENTINE Ingredients
◆◆ 1 2-2½ lb cooked lobster ◆◆ 2 cups spinach, sautéed ◆◆ 8 eggs, for poaching ◆◆ 4 egg yolks
◆◆ 1 loaf brioche, sliced
◆◆ 1½ cup white wine vinegar ◆◆ 1 small shallot, diced ◆◆ 1 bay leaf
◆◆ 2 cups clarified butter, melted ◆◆ 1 Tbsp chopped tarragon ◆◆ 1 Tbsp lemon juice ◆◆ 3 drops Tabasco
◆◆ 3 drops Worcestershire ◆◆ Kosher salt ◆◆ Black pepper ◆◆ Dill sprigs
Method 1 Bring a small pot of water to a boil. In another sauce pot, add diced shallot, 1 cup white wine vinegar and bay leaf. Reduce by three quarters. 2 In a steel bowl, add a spoonful of the vinegar reduction to the egg yolks, then place the bowl over a pot of boiling water. Whisk until yolks are cooked to a mayonnaise consistency. Remove the bowl from boiling water. 3 Slowly whisk in the melted butter. 4 Add a small spoonful of the vinegar reduction, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few drops of Tabasco and Worcestershire. 5 Season with Kosher salt and ground black pepper and whisk in the chopped tarragon. Set aside. 6 Poach eggs in simmering water with 2 Tbsps white wine vinegar. 7 To serve, toast brioche slices and top with sautéed spinach and lobster. 8 Once the egg whites are firm, remove from water and place two eggs on each slice of brioche. Top each egg with Béarnaise sauce and garnish with fresh dill sprigs.
LOBSTER SPOONS Ingredients
◆◆ 1 Nova Scotia Yarmouth lobster,
about 1½ lb
◆◆ ½ cup white vinegar
◆◆ 2 Tbsp dry vermouth
◆◆ 1 lb cold butter, cubed ◆◆ Salt and pepper, to taste
◆◆ 1 sprig cilantro, halved or roughly
chopped, to garnish
Photograph by ###
1 Bring 8 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add vinegar and remove from heat. 2 Add lobster and cover. After 2 minutes, remove with a pair of tongs. With a kitchen cloth, twist off the claws and return them to the pot for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the lobster meat from shell and refrigerate until needed. 3 To prepare the beurre monte, over medium heat, heat vermouth in a saucepan until it begins to bubble. Lower heat. Add a piece of butter and whisk until it emulsifies. Continue adding butter, a piece at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. Keep warm. 4 Cut the lobster into small pieces. Add to the beurre monte and cook until heated, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 5 Arrange 12 Chinese porcelain soup spoons on a platter. Dress each spoon with a pinch of cilantro, and then divide lobster evenly among the spoons. Drizzle a little extra beurre monte on top and serve.
ROYAL PALMS SHUFFLEBOARD CLUB A former warehouse in Gowanus has been transformed into a retro shuffleboard club with vintage Floridian flair. The ten regulation-sized courts get pretty popular during peak hours, but the tropical-themed bar (including house-kegged margaritas) and a range of games like Jenga and giant Connect Four keep you occupied while you’re waiting. Don’t miss the swinging rope and ring games which are deceptively and frustratingly challenging, especially after a few beverages. While there isn’t a kitchen, a connecting garage hosts rotating food trucks. We tried El Salvadorian arepas and pupusas when we visited. royalpalmsbrooklyn.com
Brooklyn is on just about everyone’s travel radar, so we help fill out the map of must-visit spots.
PRINGTIME IN NEW York has a distinct atmosphere. The city shakes off the slog of winter and gathers excitement for the changing season. We think there’s no better place than Brooklyn to take in the best of New York in the spring, with plenty of patios, unique bars and green space to soak it all in. For greenery, Central Park tends to get all the attention but the most underrated park in the city is across the river in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. While the former is flooded with tourists and horse-drawn carriages, the latter is where locals and hipsters head for a
BROOKLYN ◆◆ Population: 2,629,150 ◆◆ Area: 180 sq km ◆◆ Settled: 1634
discreet beverage in the early summer sun. It’s New York City’s equivalent to Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park. Prospect Park’s history goes back to 1867, when it opened as the first planned urban park in the United States and paved (or rather, landscaped) the way for other parks like that famous cousin in Manhattan. Visit on a Saturday and you can pick up some fresh produce and baked goods for your park picnic at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket which sits at the main entrance to the park. Once you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, the Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Museum are nearby. f prospectpark.org
GETTING THERE New York City is a quick, 90-minute flight from Toronto and several airlines will take you there. Despite landing in Newark, New Jersey, we prefer Porter Airlines for the advantage of a downtown departure (and less stress) from Billy Bishop Airport. Return flights start at $310. flyporter.com
CELESTINE A collaboration between several notable New York restaurateurs, including Grand Army’s Julian Brizzi and Noah Bernamoff of Mile End, Celestine features eye-popping views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. The menu draws inspiration from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines for its seasonal dishes, some of which are cooked in a sixfoot wood-burning oven. Mezes like a flageolet bean spread with green olives and pickled octopus anchor a menu of modern dishes that are designed to be shared. Decorated with light wood and clean lines, the bright, simple interior allows the elegant cuisine and floor-to-ceiling window vistas to take centre stage. celestinebk.com
Photography: Prospect by Shutterstock; Royal Palms by Billie Grace Ward;
Celestine by Melissa Hom; Cider by Michael Tulipan; Fette by Keisuke Omi
BROOKLYN CIDER HOUSE This Bushwick newcomer draws inspiration from the cideries of Spain’s Basque region for its hard ciders, down-to-earth cuisine and communal-style seating. Ciders are made from apples sourced from the restaurant’s affiliated farm in upstate New York. Set in a 12,000-squarefoot warehouse, Brooklyn Cider House’s lofty, industrial aesthetic is reminiscent of a German beer hall. The prix-fixe dinners are the must-try experience here, with classic Spanish eats like chorizo and tortilla de bacalao served family-style, paired with natural, unfiltered ciders. brooklynciderhouse.com
Brooklynites are the frontrunners of drinking and dining in unexpected places and Fette Sau is just one of many Williamsburg spots that prove this point best. A former auto-repair garage has been converted into a hip barbecue joint and cocktail bar where a no-reservations policy means consistent lines to get a bite of their signature dry rubbed meats, sold by the pound. Pints or growlers from the beer list are a fitting accompaniment. As the weather warms, the garage door is pulled up to let the fresh springtime air in and picnic tables are set up in the rustic alleyway leading to it. It’s easy to miss the entrance to this spot, so keep your eyes peeled for a cursive fluorescent sign hanging above metal gates. fettesaubbq.com
ALL IN GOOD TASTE This May long weekend, Torontoâ€™s top chefs, restaurant owners and regional wineries are collaborating for the inaugural Tastemaker food festival at Evergreen Brick Works.
S THE VIBRANT food hall culture of European markets makes its way to Canada, hungry Torontonians are looking for a more unique way to explore creative cuisines and discover their next favourite chefs, artisans and regional wineries in one place. Theyâ€™ll find just that at Tastemaker, a curated food event held from May 18 to 19 at Evergreen Brick Works. From the same team behind the successful Taste of Toronto series, Tastemaker is an immersive event
ALL-INCLUSIVE TICKETING GIVES GUESTS ACCESS TO UNLIMITED FOOD AND DRINK SAMPLES FOR JUST $60
that elevates culinary exploration for passionate followers of food and drink. At Tastemaker, food fanatics can interact face-to-face with their favourite dining personalities in the city as they will be preparing their dishes and offerings on-site for guests at sampling booths. There are over 60 restaurants, wineries, breweries and artisan producers participating in Tastemaker. But what really sets Tastemaker apart as a food event are its one-off, never before seen chef collaborations in the
Tastemaker Kitchen. Guests will get to sample unique eats from chefs that are partnering together for the first time ever. Tastemaker guests can exclusively experience the creations that Grant Van Gameren (Quetzal, Bar Isabel) and Victor Barry (Café Cancan) or Rob Gentile (Buca Osteria) and Patrick Kriss (Alo) produce in the Tastemaker Kitchen. The list of notable chefs collaborating at Tastemaker continues: Matt Dean Petit, Elia Herrera, Michael Hunter and Ivana Raca, to name a few. Tastemaker’s all-inclusive ticketing gives guests access to unlimited food and drink samples from chefs, restaurants, artisans and wineries for just $60. Without having to worry about
individual payments, you can enjoy all the delicious bites and sips you want, making it easy to explore and discover new tastes and flavours. To top it off, Tastemaker finds inspiration from traditional food halls for its communal seating environment in an open concept space where you’re bound to meet new food friends. Following the inaugural Toronto event, the Tastemaker series will continue to Chicago on August 17 and 19. Food lovers won’t want to miss this unique first chance to be part of an innovative new culinary experience in the city that’ll soon spread across the continent. ●
SAVE 10% OFF TASTEMAKER TICKETS Be one of the first in the city to experience Tastemaker and save a few bucks while you're at it with our exclusive promo code. Save 10% of the ticket price by using the code FOODISM. Head to thetastemakertour.com to purchase. This code is valid until May 4, 2018.
BOTTLE SERVICE Celebrate spring with clear spirits, tonic mixers and local white wines. PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN FAIST
1 PIGER HENRICUS GIN. This microdistilled dry gin – with a bouquet of juniper and pine – is one of the most exciting new artisan spirit products to come out of Quebec. $44.75, lcbo.com 2 NOMADIK BARLEY VODKA. Small batch vodka is having a moment. This elegant and earthy one from Concord drinks bone dry with a slight taste of apple. $35.15, lcbo.com
3 STAR OF BOMBAY. A dozen botanicals (two more than usual) have been infused into the Star. It shows dried fruit and flowers. Go light when mixing it. $39.95, lcbo.com 4 BLOOM LONDON GIN. A premium London dry gin that bartenders love. A harmonious layering of floral and citrus, which is perfect for G and Ts. $43.85, lcbo.com
5 KINSIP STILL’S WHISPER VODKA. Local ingredients were used to infuse this light spirit that has faint notes of vanilla and pear. Try it in a Moscow mule. $39.95, lcbo.com 6 DILLON’S UNFILTERED GIN 22. Dillon’s latest gin is one of its most floral. Unfiltered, this gin has a round mouthfeel. Have it neat or stick to martinis. $39.95, lcbo.com
7 DIXON’S WICKED GIN. If citrus is your game, try this award winner from a Guelph micro-distillery. Mix with tonic to bring out the juniper and licorice notes. $39.95, lcbo.com 8 KANNUK VODKA. The newest Ontario vodka comes from St. Catharines. It’s made from sweet potato, corn, soft wheat and wild rice. Perfect for greyhounds. $49.95, lcbo.com
F O O D I S M .T O
3 4 5
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1 FRANKLIN & SONS. A cleaner, more neutral tonic with a woodsy character and a bitter finish. It makes a complementary base for more complex gins. $34.80 for 12, franklinandsons.ca 2 FENTIMAN’S TONIC WATER. Crisp and refreshing with a spalike cucumber water quality. Adds a nice complexity to simpler gins and spirits. $8.99 for 4, drinkfentimans.com 3 JACK’S TONIQUE. Quebec-made with local honey that features prominently. Ginger, sea salt and subtle hints of lavender add layers of complexity. $9.99 for 4, jackssoda.com 4 FEVER-TREE AROMATIC TONIC WATER. The rosé hue sets it apart. Sweeter than most with floral notes and a grapefruit flavour. Pair with citrus-forward gins. $6.49 for 4, fever-tree.com 5 BOYLAN HERITAGE TONIC. An herbaceous tonic with an almost medicinal quality. Makes a good match for spicier gins. $45.25 for 24, boylanbottling.com
Photograph by ###
1 ROSEWOOD SÜSRESERVE RIESLING. The 2016 drinks like a fountain of stone fruit, with crisp minerality leaving a fresh finish. Order some sushi. $13.25, lcbo.com 2 REIF ESTATE RIESLING 2016. For something a bit more mediumbodied and citrus-y. This one sings of peach and pear. $13.95, lcbo.com 3 FEATHERSTONE 2016 CANADIAN OAK CHARDONNAY. Featherstone is one of Niagara’s smallest wineries, and the buttery smooth 2016 chardonnay is another example of attention to their craft. $21.95, lcbo.com 4 JACKSON-TRIGGS 2016 PINOT GRIGIO. This refreshing, good-value grigio is crisp and romances with peach and citrus. $13.95, lcbo.com 5 TRIUS DRY RIESLING 2016. This tropical crowd pleaser will play well with everything on the table this season. $14.95, lcbo.com
BITTERS: Essential ingredient in old fashioneds and manhattans with flavours of walnut, cherry and ginger.
CHERRIES: Hand-picked and pitted from British Columbia, these cherries are steeped in sweet syrup.
GUIDE: Learn more about the world’s most iconic cocktail, along with classic and regional recipes.
For seasoned bartenders or total beginners, Cocktail Emporium has everything to craft beautiful beverages.
T Photography: Kailee Mandel
ORONTONIANS HAVEN’T ALWAYS known the difference between a martini and a manhattan. The city’s cocktail culture most recently came to life a decade ago and an integral part of its rebirth was a boutique on Queen West called Cocktail Emporium. This one-stop shop for all things bar and cocktail related was the first of its kind in Canada when it opened seven years ago, shaking up the scene with their unique merchandise offerings, quality selection, knowledgeable staff and creative product presentation. They’ve since added a second location in Kensington Market with a third store opening in Union Station in late 2018. At Cocktail Emporium, total novices, seasoned home bartenders and professional mixologists alike can find everything they would need to craft a delicious cocktail. Discover an impressive selection of cocktail
bitters, garnishes, mixes, glassware, cocktail books, absinthe fountains and everything in between. Products range from high-end Japanese-made bar tools and elderflower syrup made in Belgium to starter bar tools and simple ingredients to make the basics. Recently, Cocktail Emporium introduced their own house line of bar tools and glassware. This collection, called Potion House, is designed specifically for the modern professional bartender. The line focuses on accessible pricing and elegant, durable pieces so bartenders around the city can focus on making phenomenal cocktails. Toronto’s cocktail scene is growing and Cocktail Emporium is positioned at the centre of all the excitement. With their new house collection, upcoming third location, an always expanding inventory and access to products, Cocktail Emporium helps Torontonians drink and entertain better. ●
WIN A HOME BARTENDING KIT WORTH $550
Start your own home bar with a bar cart (pg. 19) and a premium WIN copper bar set (pg. 20) from Cocktail Emporium. This prize includes a two-tiered bar cart and copper bar set including a Boston shaker and copper-dipped tumblers. Visit foodism.to/competition for more details and to enter.
TORONTO, ONE BITE AT A TIME SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND YOU’LL BE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST TRENDS AND OPENINGS ON THE TORONTO RESTAURANT SCENE. DON’T MISS OUT. SIGN UP AT FOODISM.TO/NEWSLETTER
Chardonnay, chenin and chablis – three whites that cover the spectrum and offer drinks-to-dinner flexibility.
THE NOSTALGIST What happened to the calm, family-style buffets wonders Suresh Doss as he contemplates brunch.
Photography: Brunch by Rachel Park; Wines by Ryan Faist
REMEMBER A TIME when eating brunch in Toronto was a casual, enjoyable experience. No, really. Before it became an obsession for foodies, and a platform for a deluge of hatred from the chef brigade, brunch was actually quite cheerful. Brunching in Toronto dates back to the 80s and 90s. Prior to colourful plates of eggs Benedict and free-flowing mimosas, it was all about the buffet. Swaths of family restaurants that aren’t quite “diners” would serve all-you-can-gorge feasts from one end of the city to the other. My first experiences were in Scarborough at a handful of lowbrow buffets that no longer exist, but these were quintessential spots for those seeking nourishment and a much needed pick-meup after long nights out with friends. The food wasn’t great by any means – this isn’t a praise for how brunch should be idealized as an important and healthy start to your day. It was about three key experiences: Meeting up with the same group of friends you spent a night out with; slowly regaining consciousness thanks to buckets of mediocre coffee; and finding some rejuvenation from grease, protein and sugar. As we entered the 2000s, brunch slowly started to evolve from its blue-collar, humble beginnings to a level with some refinement. I vividly remember quiet meals at Le Petit Dejeuner – it was my first brunch experience after moving downtown. Lazy mid-mornings nestled into a rickety wooden booth, with bottomless cups of coffee followed by mounds of the best duck confit in town.
LPJ was a personal favourite for many years. I then discovered Bonjour Brioche in Riverside, a small restaurant lauded for its vast selection of stuffed croissants. These days, it’s impossible to visit either without carefully planning a pre-dawn sneak attack to avoid the overwhelming crowds. Sometime in the mid 2000s, brunch evolved into an Olympic sport, and Leslieville became the stadium. It began with small restaurants dotted throughout the east side as demographics started to shift. Menus of elaborate egg, bread and roast meat preparations quickly spread through the rest of the city. Alcohol entered the mix and soon we had colourful, tall glasses of mimosas and Caesars towering to the point of tipping over. Brunch is now relegated to special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or when I have friends in from out of town. Unfortunately, “lining up” has become part of the Toronto experience. I’m not complaining about busy restaurants. Evolution is a good thing. Toronto is home to many great brunch experiences that span way beyond your traditional egg-and-bread plates. Some of the city’s most popular brunch eateries are the international ones. I’m complaining that brunch has changed from a lazy morning “let’s meet here” experience that required little planning to one that requires strategic correspondence and surgical execution. Sometimes, what I crave is something relaxed, simple and cheerful. f
1. C L OS PE GAS E 2014 M ITSUKO’S VINEYA R D C HAR DONNAY Just outside of Calistoga, in Napa Valley, this boutique estate winery produces small batch wines. They’re hard to come by, and almost always memorable. The 2014 Chardonnay is a treat of tropical fruit – mango, guava and pineapple – with tartness throughout. Enjoy on its own. $34.95, lcbo.com
2. DOM AINE QU I N TS SAU M U R 2016 Domaine des Quints is a small estate winery in the Loire valley. The best example from the fully organic winery is this Chenin Blanc that is true to the grape’s origins. Crisp as the first spring rainful followed by a river of peaches and apple. You can drink this on its own or mix it with the products of your first outdoor grilling session. $16.95, lcbo.com
3. AL B E RT B IC H O T 2015 C HAB L IS The Bichot family got into the wine business nearly two centuries ago. Six generations later, they still make wine under the same “little intervention” philosophy. This is a great introduction to the winery’s portfolio, and has a very spring feel with hints of apple and sparkles with clean acidity. $22.95, lcbo.com
F O O D I S M .T O
THE DIGEST IN-CIDER SCOOP Another 87 grocery stores across Ontario, including 30 in the GTA, will have the go-ahead to sell beer and cider beginning in April. The LCBO used a competitive bidding process to pick the lucky entrants to the market. They will join over 200 stores across the province
Beer and grocery innovation, plus a new luxury dining series.
that are already allowed to sell beer, cider and, in some cases, wine. The majority of the new stores are large grocers, including No Frills, Fortinos and Walmart, plus 11 independent operators. Downtown locations include Metro at Yonge and Front and No Frills at Carlaw and Gerrard. The number of good-times grocers will eventually reach 450 in total.
GO CART Loblaw is teaming up with Metrolinx, the GTA’s regional transportation agency, to offer grocery pick-up at select GO Transit stations. The new PC Express service is the first of its kind in Canada, and allows commuters to place grocery orders online for pick-up on their way home the next day. The service is being rolled out at Bronte, Oakville, Rouge Hill, Whitby and Clarkson this spring, with plans to expand across the region. Orders need to be in by midnight the day before pick-up and will be waiting in delivery trucks, lockers or enclosed kiosks.
JUST BREW IT
Photography: Cider by Trong Nguyen; Go by Toronto-Images.com
GOING DARK A high-end monthly dining series launches next month at Vaughan’s Chateau Le Jardin. Apres Noir will see a celebrity chef paired with a notable entertainer and confirmed for the first event on May 17th is Drake, partnered with Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis. The membership style, invite-only events are priced from $8,000 quarterly to $30,000 for the year. Guests confirmed for the rest of the year include Jennifer Hudson, David Blaine, Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay.
Beer brewers across the region now have a dedicated facility for honing their (ahem) craft with the opening of Durham College’s Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation (CCBI) in March. The new facility, at the college’s Whitby campus, features a 50-litre pilot system and brew lab. Brewers who partner with the centre will be able to use its stateof-the-art facilities to work through challenges and develop new recipes by experimenting with microanalysis, yeast propagation and other science-heavy techniques. The CCBI’s goal is to support Ontario’s ever-growing craft beer industry, as well as give the college’s students the opportunity to learn from the innovations of working brewers.
While we wait for the start of patio season, get your vitamin D fix at these sunny indoor spots.
SIPPING IN THE SUN
Whether youâ€™re looking for a sunny spot to wait out the last few weeks before patio season opens, planning a fancy tea outing or searching for the best sandwiches, stick with us, we have your selections covered.
1 Gusto 101 101 Portland St.
Clever design and construction doubles Gusto 101’s all-season dining capacity. Its glassed-in rooftop patio, which sits atop the original former auto-body garage, creates an industrial-chic environment that includes an oversized Goodyear sign as a loud but cute nod to the building’s former life. It all makes a fitting environment for tucking into the restaurant’s modern Italian fare. gusto101.com
BEST OF THE REST
Photography: 2 by Cindy La
2 Auberge du Pommier
4 Cactus Club Café
4150 Yonge St.
77 Adelaide St. W.
For a classy covered patio experience, look no further than this North York institution. Opened in 1987, Auberge du Pommier is set in a pair of renovated woodcutters’ cottages dating back to the 19th century. The restaurant’s sheltered terrace features charming, French-inspired decor, accented with leafy plants, flowers and rustic stone. Heaters help to keep the temperature toasty on chilly evenings, while you make your way through the restaurant’s extensive wine list of more than 500 bottles.
Sun seeking among the towers of the Financial District is challenging but your best bet is on the Cactus Club’s third-floor deck. The glass roof has a snow-melting feature for maximum sun exposure, regardless of the precipitation. Ceiling-mounted heaters keep the temps near the summer standard until the roof retracts. Private booths and a rotating schedule of guest DJs help to create the upscale clubby feel that this Canada-wide chain is known for, as do the suits streaming in from the glass towers at the end of the day.
3 The Rooftop at the Broadview Hotel
5 Kelly’s Landing
106 Broadview Ave.
123 Front St.
Up on the seventh floor of the Broadview Hotel, the Rooftop features dramatic views of the Toronto skyline and the Don River. Its east-end location offers a rare bird’s-eye perspective on Toronto towards the west. The lounge has floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a striking pyramidal skylight, with hanging plants further enhancing the feeling of connection to the outdoors. Buzzy vibes and a menu emphasizing shareable dishes like fried chicken and charcuterie boards make the Rooftop a hip patio alternative – plus there’s a large outdoor seating area.
Sport and concert-goers keen to soak in some rays pre (or post) game drinks can do just that at Kelly’s Landing, located across from Union Station. The 43’ x 30’ glass rooftop above the restaurant’s main dining area brings an outdoorsy feel to the space. The roof also retracts when the temperature cooperates. A food menu of pub staples is standard with a few global inflections (Moroccan-style chicken curry and a naan club sandwich). But really, we’re there for the wine (stored in a fancy 800-bottle display fridge) and draft list (24 beers on tap).
1 Porchetta & Co 545 King St. W.; 825 Dundas St. W.
SUN'S OUT, BUNS OUT Toronto’s best sandwich makers offer creative interpretations of a hand-held favourite.
Since opening in 2010, Porchetta & Co has claimed their place as one of the best sandwich shops in the city. They mean business, equipped with multiple deep fryers, rational ovens and a giant prep space for their in-house butchering. The sandwich joint ensures the highest quality of meat for their sandwiches. They offer both take-out and catering, but the best way to enjoy this sandwich is hot and fresh at one of their two downtown locations. Porchetta’s house special is a must try, pre-loaded with parmesan cheese, mustard, truffle sauce and hot sauce on a fresh Thuet bun. The insanely addictive crackling, which tops off that heap, earns its “fatty heaven” nickname and is arguably the best part of the whole sandwich. porchettaco.com
BEST OF THE REST 2 Sea Witch
4 Illstyl3 Sammies
636 St. Clair Ave. W.
300 Richmond St. W.
Tallow-fried hunks of fish at this bustling chippy are sandwiched inside ciabatta-style buns and topped with house-made tartar sauce and pickled red onions. Among the five fish options (all Ocean Wise approved and, naturally, also available as fish ‘n’ chips), pickerel is best. The Witch’s Brew chowder and halibut cakes are also worth trying. seawitchfc.com
Illstyl3 Sammies specializes in American classics, but our go-to order is the cheesesteak topped with American cheese and house-made hot sauce. Owner Germain Marshall was born in Saint Lucia but lived in Philly, home of the cheesesteak, for many years before moving to Toronto, so he knows how to do the City of Brotherly Love’s signature sandwich properly.
3 Schmaltz Appetizing
5 Banh Mi Nguyen Huong
414 Dupont St.; 224 Ossington Ave.
322 Spadina Ave.
Everything at the two locations of chef Anthony Rose’s appetizing shops goes well on bagels. First-timers should go for the Chub Chub – your choice of Kiva’s bagel smeared with horseradish cream cheese and layered with smoked whitefish salad, gravlax and dill cucumbers. The Dupont location is mainly for takeaway while Ossington has a small dine-in area with an old-school deli feel.
Many Torontonians on a budget have found themselves shuffling amongst the crowds in this tiny Chinatown eatery for an authentic banh mi. For a mere $2.50, you’ll get a crusty French roll sliced and stuffed on the spot with all the traditional banh mi fixins – fatty deli meat, flavourful pâté and lightly pickled daikon and carrots. You can pick your desired spice level and the efficient staff here will accommodate requested modifications.
BEST OF THE REST 2 Shangri-La
4 Sorelle and Co.
188 University Ave.
1050 Rutherford Rd.
Guests can listen to tranquil live music while they choose from a menu of 75 premium teas. The Shangri-La changes their afternoon tea menu seasonally so their in-house sommeliers explore different food pairings. Scones here are topped with berry preservatives and Cornish clotted cream.
Sorelle’s elegant second floor tea room is a suitably serene setting for tea with à la carte afternoon tea available seven days a week. Their menu is a health nut’s dream come true – gluten, soy, sesame, nut and preservativefree options are available. The china and goldcoloured cutlery has a Victorian style to it.
3 Windsor Arms
5 Kitten and the Bear
18 St. Thomas St.
1574 Queen St. W.
Spanning three cozy rooms, tea service at the Windsor Arms offers a more intimate experience complemented by the charm of the building’s long history. The menu mixes classics with updated twists like wasabi sour cream and salmon sandwiches. A $5 donation to Look Good Feel Better’s cancer support programs gets you a fancy hat to wear for the afternoon.
Head to Parkdale for a more low-key afternoon tea service. Diners lucky enough to snag one of the two tables (seating just five people in total) in the jam shop’s small tasting room are treated to a sampling of seasonal, small-batch preserves prepared in house. The spread also includes fresh-baked scones, made using Hewitts Dairy buttermilk.
TORONTO TEA TIME We practice proper pinky posture with afternoon tea sandwiches and pots of loose leaf.
1 Omni King Edward Hotel 37 King St. E.
Photograph by ###
The King Eddy has been offering afternoon tea service for over a century. The main floor Victoria Restaurant has an elegant, historic aesthetic that makes it a thoroughly appropriate setting for enjoying the classic English tradition. Served Friday to Sunday, this experience features the requisite scones served with Devonshire cream and housemade strawberry jam, along with savoury finger sandwiches like peppered beef with watercress. Toronto purveyor Sloane Fine Tea makes a blend specially for the hotel. omnihotels.com
PITA: Parallel gets its fresh pita from its sister restaurant, Pita Pit. Perfect to build your own mini bites.
FLOWERS: Chef Markovitz adds mustard flowers and fennel for an aromatic punch that merges well with the spice mixture he uses.
CARROT PURÉE: The puréed root vegetable brings a dose of earthy sweetness and a flash of orange to this rustic, yet refined plate. MEAT: A mix of organs and odd bits from the chicken is cooked in spices and onions. A traditional Jerusalem mix contains liver, heart and spleen. Parallel, 217 Geary Ave., 416-516-7765
Photograph by ###
Parallel Brothers, a restaurant making stand-out tahini, has joined the new foodand-drink strip on Geary Ave. Their “Jerusalem mix” is a deconstructed take on Israel’s latenight classic sandwich.
BEET TAHINI: Parallel makes three types of sesame butter in house. The most popular contains beet flavouring.
rondiplomatico.com PLEASE ENJOY DIPLOMATICALLY
rondiplomatico.com PLEASE ENJOY DIPLOMATICALLY
Foodism - 10 - Toronto, food and drink