T O R O N T O , O N E B I T E AT A T I M E
Gin made the way it used to be, the way it should be.
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Hello@foodism.to CEO & PUBLISHER
EDITORIAL EDITOR AT LARGE
Jessica Huras WRITER
Katie Bridges COPY EDITOR
Taylor Newlands CONTRIBUTORS
We were really spoiled. I can’t remember a summer as good as the one
Carlton Mbavarira David Ort Jennifer Chan
we’ve had this year. Temperatures consistently hit the mid- to high-20s,
for neighbourhood walks or sitting by the dock.
Matthew Hasteley SENIOR DESIGNER
Kailee Mandel Kayla Rocca Sandro Pehar
and the sunshine stretched into long summer evenings that were perfect Personally, I tried to spend as much time outdoors as possible. I know I’m in the minority with that entirely cheerful verdict. For most of my friends – who appreciate what summer brings along with it: patios, #allthefestivals, sunning on the beach, trips to the cottage – the humidity
FRONT COVER: Photography by Ian Dingle Art direction by Matthew Hasteley, April Tran
is a sticking point. Which is why I think October is a month that most Torontonians welcome with open arms. ADVERTISING
It’s a time of year when you can still do most of the above (some patios
Nicole Aggelonitis David Horvatin Nick Valsamis Spencer Reynolds
do stay open) with much needed relief from the heat. By the time you
be well under way. Fall is one of the best times for a road trip, whether it’s
a quick Daytripper to feast through Etobicoke (pg. 14), a venture uptown
for noodles (pg. 42), or a weekender to wine country. To help, we’ve put
together our first Wine 101 guide to help demystify what can sometimes be
020 WEAPONS OF CHOICE
an intimidating subject, and share our picks for the good stuff (pg. 36).
Emily Buck AJ Cerqueti Tim Slee Solisco
read this, the trees will start to show their fall splendour and harvest will
In our first Origins feature, Jennifer Chan takes us deep into the cellars of the 200-year old Veuve Clicquot champagne house (pg. 70). The Ontario beef industry is currently undergoing an evolution; David Ort explains what that means for steak lovers and home cooks (pg. 54). Locally, our cocktail scene was barren, until BarChef changed everything. Owner Frankie Solarik shares his journey (pg. 48). If October is the most pleasant month, it’s also the most fleeting. Enjoy it before the snow hits the ground.
012 THE FOODIST 014 DAYTRIPPER 016 THE RADAR 018 WHAT’S IN STORE
033 CARLTON MBAVARIRA
FEAST 036 FINDING VINO 042 NOODS FLASH 048 SIR MIX-A-LOT 054 THE BEEF STOPS HERE 060 COCKTAIL HOUR
EXCESS 070 RING AROUND THE ROSÉ 082 INSIDER 084 BOTTLE SERVICE Suresh Doss Editor at Large foodismto
091 FOODISM’S FINEST 093 THE DIGEST 094 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
Photograph by ###
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— PART 1 —
GRAZE “THE PSL INFLAMES FAR MORE PASSION THAN SHOULD BE REASONABLE FOR A SIMPLE BEVERAGE.” THE FOODIST, 012
012 THE FOODIST | 014 DAYTRIPPER | 016 THE RADAR | 018 WHAT’S IN STORE 020 WEAPONS OF CHOICE | 025 RECIPES | 033 CARLTON MBAVARIRA
L E AH’S BAK E RY
Colourful leaves and pumpkin spice top Jessica Huras's list of everything nice.
ORE THAN CHILLY evenings, colourful foliage or a significant uptick in conversations about coziness, nothing quite signals the arrival of autumn like the surge in pumpkin spiced controversy. The most notable offender is Starbucks’s notorious latte. The PSL inflames far more passion than should be reasonable for a simple beverage: Some people adore the PSL, others hate it and others secretly love it but repress their ardour in fear of mockery and backlash. For the past few years, I fell into the third camp. I don’t remember my first pumpkin spice latte, but I did enjoy them regularly in those blissful few seasons before the internet declared them a symbol of 'basicness.' So I stopped ordering them. I convinced myself it was partly about avoiding a few hundred extra calories a week, but in reality, it was pure peer pressure. The call of pumpkin spice only became harder to avoid during my years of abstinence. It didn’t help that the success
of the PSL seemed to usher in an era of pumpkin spice everything: Grocery stores, cafés and bars all saw an annual flood of pumpkin spice ales, pastries, pasta sauces, cocktails and granola bars. And then my fast ended. I impulsively grabbed a pack of pumpkin spice yogurts in the grocery store dairy aisle, realizing I just didn’t care anymore if the cashier or any passing strangers judged me as basic. And those yogurts were so good. As you probably know, pumpkin spice flavour rarely has to do with actual pumpkin – it’s about that magical combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and clove that’s warm, comforting, sweet and, for many of us, nostalgic. Sometimes, food isn’t about what’s arguably high-quality or well-executed, it’s about how you feel when you eat it. Call me basic if you must, but I feel that hating on pumpkin spice has become about as mainstream as loving it. Embrace it if you love it or take a pass if you don’t – but I for one say bring on pumpkin spice season. f
Leah Kalish opened her own retail bakery in 2010, at St. Clair West and Wychwood Avenue. Her biscotti - which come in four flavours including lemon poppyseed and almond chocolate chunk - are twice baked, but not so hard that they need to be dipped. Kalish likens them to a Jewish mandelbrot cookie; an almond bread that’s slightly softer than traditional biscotti. leahs.ca
DE SSE RT L ADY This Yorkville bakery opened in 2005 and became known for a wide selection of cakes, truffles, macarons and cupcakes, which are made from scratch with top ingredients. Choose from biscotti flavours like chocolate almond, candied ginger, mixed nuts and apricot pistachio. What's our go-to? Enjoy a lemon cranberry biscotti with a cinnamonsprinkled cappuccino. dessertlady.ca
F OR NO C ULT URA This family-run Italian bakery on King West makes bread and cookies just like nonna used to. They opened back in 2013 and have since launched two other stores around the city, including their "Biscotteria" in Union Station. There, the biscotti are available by the piece and sold by weight. The Forno Cultura take on biscotti uses less sugar than most and is small but perfectly formed. fornocultura.com
Photography: Forno by Tony Lanz
Biscotti, the twice-baked Italian treat, takes coffee from drink to snack. Here are three of Toronto's best.
every mug needs a chai
Discover our chai collection in store or at davidstea.com
DAY TRIPPER Etobicoke sits in Toronto's shadows by the water. Here's what makes it shine.
What's the vibe Etobicoke’s sprawling landscape stretches from Claireville Conservation Area all the way down to Lake Ontario. Despite its industry-meets-suburbia reputation, there’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to interesting food spots. If you want to choose one area to focus on, stick to the Mimico and Long Branch neighbourhoods.
Etobicoke’s culinary identity is a patchwork of pockets of immigrant populations. Portuguese and Polish establishments sit alongside some of the city’s oldest diners and dives. Here are two essentials to start.
1 Sesame Pastry; 2783 Lake Shore Blvd. W. A go-to Polish bakery that serves some of the best paczki (doughnuts). They’re fluffy and stuffed with an assortment of fruit jams. If you prefer something savoury, the shop also carries frozen traditional Polish pierogis.
Don't miss: SanRemo doughnuts
Getting there Etobicoke is our closest Daytripper yet. With just a quick hop over the Humber River, you’re well on your way to exploring the district. You can access all of the places on our list in one short bike ride or take the 501 Queen streetcar on its way out to the Long Branch loop in order to explore Lake Shore Boulevard. f
2 New Toronto Fish and Chips; 146 Fifth St. This one is our favourite from the city's sprinkling of fish 'n' chips shops for classically good hunks of lightly battered haddock and cod. Also, there’s something charming and comfortable about its untouched retro diner-style decor.
A steady wave of traditional and modern Asian restaurants have sprouted up throughout Etobicoke and present a deeper introduction to this cuisine. Here are two indie joints that punch with flavour and soul.
3 Nobuya; 285 Royal York Rd. The server that greets you is also your chef. Nobuya is a one-man operation; the dynamic owner is a ramen-addict who has spent years honing his unique “lobster and pork” broth. There’s nothing like it elsewhere. @nobuya_to
4 Khao Gaeng; 3583 Lake Shore Blvd. W. A mother-anddaughter team serve traditional Thai soups, curries and stir fries. The basil fried rice is outstanding, probably because it packs a heavy dose of heat. Green curry with shrimp is a bit tamer. khaogaeng.ca
Photography: Fish by Christie Vuong; Suresh Doss
Three brothers opened this Italian bakery nearly 50 years ago with a vision to create a one-stop shop for immigrants. Nearly half a century later, SanRemo Bakery has grown into the city’s community hub where you’ll find locals regularly visiting for caffeine fixes, hot-counter lunches and custom cakes. The main draw here is its social nature, so stop by for a quick espresso and fluffy doughnut or pause for a veal sandwich to take it all in.
180° CHANGE. 360° VIEW. Toronto has changed and so have we. Discover the CN Tower’s newly revamped event spaces and let the one-of-a-kind view provide the inspiration for your next meeting or party.
To book, email email@example.com
THE RADAR From Grant van Gameren’s latest to Alo’s uptown bar, here's our pick of the best new openings. QU ETZAL Quetzal (pronounced ket-sal) isn’t just a tropical bird; it’s also a new restaurant from Grant van Gameren, Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn (El Rey), and Owen Walker (Rosalinda). The new spot on College combines traditional Mexican cooking methods with Canadian produce, meat and seafood. Aside from the artfully plated food and stellar cocktail lineup, the most exciting feature is the 26-foot-long open flame cooking area running the length of the restaurant. Cross your fingers for one of the limited chef’s table seats directly in front of the flame action. Truthfully though, there is no bad place to dine in the space decked out in Canadian maple and concrete, with terracotta and turquoise accents. quetzaltoronto.com
AL OBA R
K ANDL ART IST IQU E Kandl Artistique offers the unique opportunity to shop for and create your own candles while sipping on specialty tea, coffee or even some bubbly. Signature cocktails at the swanky new Yorkville boutique were specially designed by a mixologist to match the fragrances in the store. Don’t stop there – the array of delicious Parisian-inspired desserts is a must-try. kandlartistique.com
DIPPE D DONUTS In late August, Dipped Donuts finally opened its doors after four long months of negotiations, construction and equipment troubles. The Kensington Market shop offers gourmet doughnuts of all kinds – dipped and drizzled. The menu includes the Maple Bacon Bomb, a bacontopped puff that’s stuffed with maple cream and more bacon. For those of us who are a little less indulgent, mini doughnuts offer just a wee taste of the decadent desserts. @dippeddonuts
R E G UL ARS
M OT HER TONG U E Toronto just gained another fabulous hotel restaurant and cocktail bar in the form of Mother Tongue. Located across two floors inside the Templar Hotel on Adelaide St. W., the space offers moody design and shareable plates from all over Asia. Chef Francis Bermejo serves up Filipino, Chinese and Japanese influenced dishes while Bar Buca alum Robert Granicolo takes care of the cocktail side of things. mothertongue.ca
ST IC KY R I CE K ITC HE N AND BA R With its eye-catching bamboo façade outside and authentic Thai dishes inside, Sticky Rice is hard to miss. The new Leslieville spot offers piping hot tom yam hed soup and colourful pho pia sod – cold Thai spring rolls stuffed with egg, cucumber and carrots. For dessert, try the mango and coconut milk sticky rice. @stickyrice.leslieville
Photography: Quetzal by Alexa Fernando
Regulars, a new bar from the team behind Yorkville’s comic book-themed restaurant, Figures, is bringing a touch of Hollywood glamour to the corner of King and Bathurst. The 180-seat space, which formerly housed Blowfish Restaurant + Sake Bar, has been redone with decor that blends a Hollywood golden ageaesthetic with urban elements inspired by the streets of Toronto. The menu, created by Figures’s chef Ron Stratton, is an eclectic mix of shareable apps and snacks, along with heartier mains ranging from curries to a mac 'n' cheese lasagna. regularsbar.ca
Hidden down an alleyway off of Cumberland Street in Yorkville, Alobar comes from the same people behind Alo and Aloette. It might be billed as a cocktail bar, but don’t let that fool you. Alobar is a full-on restaurant. The à la carte menu is seafood -focused with all the fine trappings you would expect from Alo’s youngest sibling. alobaryorkville.com
BREWED HERE IN THE WEST END. Available at the LCBO, The Beer Store, at grocery stores, bars and restaurants across Toronto and at beeronline.ca, or visit us at our brewery at 128A Sterling Rd in the West end. HENDERSONBREWING.COM
Olive tasting bar
WHAT’S IN STORE
Suresh Doss guides us through Cheese Boutique, the west-end emporium of imported edible delights.
trip through one of the best food markets in Spain or a spice bazaar in Turkey. Decoration in the main room is on theme: Dozens of prosciutto legs hang in the middle of the shop, surrounded by mountains of cheese from all across the globe. As the name implies, the main draw is the carefully curated selection of cheese, including whole wheels of Italian imports that are aged in the shop’s vault, but there are also entire rooms dedicated to wide selections of olive oil, pasta and house-made pastry. The epicurean’s dreamland also has aged rib-eye steaks, in-season truffles and house-made butter. There are walls dedicated to imported jams and spreads. The Pristine family uses their flexibility as independent operators to stock ingredients that are rarely found at your average grocery store. The result is the ultimate shopping experience for those who want to host memorable dinner parties at home. f
Aged meat programme
A few years ago, Pristine launched an aged steak programme to showcase how great beef can be when it’s been carefully aged for a minimum of 40 days. The programme has evolved to include options like Canadian prime bistecca alla fiorentina and 60-day Ontario rib-eye.
Pastry bar Recently, the store expanded by adding a section dedicated to housemade pastries. Fluffy croissants and glazed doughnuts come fresh out of the oven, and there’s a rotating menu of seasonal galettes that are almost too pretty to eat.
Photography: Suresh Doss
TEP OUTSIDE THE downtown core and you'll find plenty of somethingfor-everyone food shops. The Greater Toronto Area is bursting with stores that offer an all-encompassing experience of eating and shopping – but few places can boast hospitality and a keen eye for curation like Etobicoke’s Cheese Boutique. The Pristine family opened the original Cheese Boutique, a mom ’n’ pop corner store on Bloor Street, 48 years ago with a small range of imported products they brought in from Eastern Europe. In 2000, the operation moved to a larger facility in an industrial strip off the South Kingsway, and the true vision came to life. Today, the store is run by three sons. Regulars will tell you that there’s a good chance co-owner and maître-fromager Afrim Pristine will greet you near the door with a cup of espresso and a biscotti to get your shopping started. A visit here can feel like a
Pristine has composed one of Toronto's best selections of imported olives at his store. At any given time there are over 40 different types from Europe and the Middle East. Start with the Spanish varieties; ask to taste a few to decide your favourite.
it starts with
IN A LARGE WINE GLASS FULL OF ICE, COMBINE PROSECCO FOLLOWED BY APEROL I N E Q U A L PA R T S . A D D A S P L A S H O F S O D A . G A R N I S H W I T H A N O R A N G E S L I C E . @APEROLCANADA
WEAPONS OF CHOICE Shape up your wake-up game with our favourite coffee contraptions. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAILEE MANDEL STYLING BY APRIL TRAN
NE SPR E SSO L AT T ISSIM A ONE M AC HINE Get the barista experience without leaving home (or having your name butchered). This espresso machine creates the perfect frothy pick-me-up in only 40 seconds with just the touch of a button.
G R OSC HE POU R OVE R If youâ€™re a fan of pour-over java, this coffee maker promises the perfect cup, with a built-in stand that allows you full control during the brewing process. Best of all, the filter is reusable, so no more paper waste.
C UI SINA RT DE LUXE GRI ND B URR MILL Get your morning buzz, minus the racket, with this super quiet coffee grinder. The Burr Mill has 18 grind settings from ultra-fine for espresso to extra-coarse for french press, all the while preserving those natural oils for maximum flavour.
CANUCK IN THE KITCHEN
Celebrity chef Matty Matheson and the duo behind Earth to Table give us their personal takes on familiar favourites from across our country.
OR MANY REASONS, fall may be the quintessential dinner party season. The end of summer vacations and cooler weather dovetail to create the perfect reason to spend more time in the kitchen. The other great thing fall has going for it as the best cooking and hosting season? Cookbooks. This is when the best titles hit the shelves and the 2018 fall and holiday lineup looks to be particularly impressive. As the follow-up to their hit cookbook, local chefs Bettina Schormann and Jeff Crump release Earth to Table Every Day: Cooking with Good Ingredients Through
the Seasons ($30.11, amazon.ca). Their first cookbook was a success because it showed readers the ease of using Ontario ingredients to create stellar plates. Their second is equally focused on Canadiana and promises to inspire many meals in the coming months. Host of the Viceland show Dead Set On Life, Matty Matheson says his new cookbook is an ode to the rogue chef’s life in Canada. Matty Matheson: A Cookbook ($31.10, amazon.ca) is his first cookbook and is already poised to be an essential pantry item. In it, Matheson shares the recipes that represent his childhood in Canada. f
FOODISM RECIPES, IN ASSOCIATION WITH ASAHI SUPER DRY When Asahi introduced Asahi Super Dry in 1987, it transformed the modern beer industry in Japan. Asahi Super Dry is brewed to the authentic Japanese recipe to deliver a dry, crisp taste and quick, clean finish – one that compliments all occasions and can be enjoyed glass after glass. Because there was no beer related phrase that could adequately characterize the brews smooth taste, Asahi was described as dry, a term associated with
wines, thus changing the beer landscape forever. The distinctive dry taste is known as Karakuchi, a taste Asahi is dedicated to mastering by using only the finest ingredients and continuously advancing their brewing technology. Asahi, with its uniquely smooth taste, is the embodiment of modern Japan – but thanks to its easy-drinking nature, it can be paired with any type of food, including Canadian.
HOT BUTTER, COLD LOBSTER
The celeb chef goes back to his Halifax roots to give us a pared-back take on this seasonal favourite. Lobster doesn't need to be luxe to please a crowd.
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ Salt water ◆◆ 4 (1½ to 2-pound) lobsters ◆◆ Ice bath (water, salt, and 5 to
6 [10-pound] bags of ice) ◆◆ Unsalted butter
1 Set a large pot on your burner. If you have an outdoor propane burner, use that. If you don’t have sea water for boiling, use ¼ cup (55 g) sea salt for each 1 gallon (3.8 L) water. 2 Bring the water to a boil and add the lobsters one at a time. Make sure you remove the rubber bands from
the claws just before you put them in the pot. Usually, I flip the critters over and lower them headfirst into the water. Cover the pot; cook 8 minutes per pound, stirring about halfway. 3 When done, drop the lobsters in the ice bath for at least 4 or 5 minutes. Timing is not critical here; if left longer, it will not harm the lobster.
4 Crack ’em open. I take the tail off and split it, and crack the claws just above the thumb. The claw legs have good meat, and a pair of scissors can be used to cut them open. 5 In a small saucepan, melt some butter and set aside when it's completely melted. Tear into your lobsta, dip, eat and repeat. f
TURKEY SANDWICH Pull the diner classic out of the leftover circuit and elevate it to the big leagues with this purpose-built version.
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 2 turkey breasts ◆◆ Canola oil ◆◆ Kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper ◆◆ 2 large turkey necks ◆◆ 1 onion, chopped ◆◆ 1 carrot, chopped ◆◆ 2 stalks celery, chopped ◆◆ 2 Tbsp tomato paste ◆◆ 3 quarts (2.8 L) chicken stock ◆◆ 2 bay leaves ◆◆ 1 bunch parsley (optional) ◆◆ 1 bunch thyme (optional) ◆◆ 3 Tbsp flour ◆◆ 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus
more for the peas ◆◆ 4 slices white bread ◆◆ 1 (12 oz) bag frozen peas
1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat the turkey breasts with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the turkey breasts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts reaches 145 F. Remove the breasts from the oven
and cover in plastic wrap. Let cool, then place in the fridge overnight. 2 Meanwhile, pat the turkey necks dry and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) portions. Season with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat an inch of oil over medium heat. Cook the turkey necks until they’re nice and dark brown on all sides. Remove and set
aside. To the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook down then add the tomato paste; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3 Place the necks back into the pot and add the stock and bay leaves. You can add parsley and thyme as well. Bring to a boil, skim the scum that rises with a ladle, and turn the heat to low; braise for 2 to 3 hours. Once the meat on the necks is fork-tender, remove them and strain the stock into a large container; refrigerate. 4 The next day, pick the neck meat off the bones. Make the gravy: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the flour and butter until golden brown, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 4 cups turkey stock from the necks. 5 Thinly slice the turkey breasts against the grain. Place one slice of bread on a plate, then top with 3 slices of breast and 2 heaping tablespoons of the braised turkey-neck meat, then 3 more slices of breast. Push down on the meat to compress. Pour hot gravy over the entire sandwich. In a medium saucepan, warm the peas with just a little butter and water; season with salt. Spoon a big pile on top of your hot turkey sandwich. f
Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann’s
LING COD WITH CABBAGE Go full fall with a fish dish served on a bed of cabbage and apple.
I N GREDI EN TS Braised Cabbage ◆◆ 3 Tbsp olive oil
◆◆ 1 clove garlic, minced ◆◆ 1 head purple cabbage,
cored and shredded ◆◆ 3 Tbsp unseasoned rice
vinegar ◆◆ 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme ◆◆ Kosher salt and freshly
ground pepper ◆◆ 1 apple, cored and chopped ◆◆ 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
◆◆ 4 ling cod fillets (6 oz) ◆◆ 3 Tbsp (45 mL) unsalted
butter, softened ◆◆ 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
1 To make the braised cabbage, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the cabbage. Cover and cook, stirring often, until cabbage softens, about 10 minutes.
2 Add the rice vinegar and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. 3 Add the apple and butter; stir well. Cover and keep warm. 4 Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 5 Place cod fillets on the baking
sheet and top with butter. Squeeze lemon wedges over fish and arrange the lemon sections around fish. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish flakes. 6 Divide the braised cabbage among 4 plates. Carefully remove cod from the baking sheet and serve it on top. f
Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann’s
Expand your roast repertoire with this hearty take on lamb shoulder. I NG REDI EN TS Lamb
◆◆ 3 Tbsp olive oil ◆◆ Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh
rosemary, chopped ◆◆ 4 cloves garlic, minced ◆◆ 1 Tbsp kosher salt ◆◆ 1 bone-in lamb shoulder
◆◆ 6 cups (1.5 L) chicken or
beef stock ◆◆ 1½ cups coarse cornmeal ◆◆ 4 Tbsp unsalted butter ◆◆ ¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 In a large bowl, stir together olive oil, rosemary, garlic and salt. Add the lamb and rub it all over. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 2 Preheat the oven to 325 F. 3 Place the lamb in a high-sided roasting pan. If the pan is too large, the braising liquid could burn. Cover with foil and roast for 4 hours. Increase the heat to 400 F, remove the foil, and roast until the lamb has a nice char, about 20 minutes. When the meat is done, pull apart with forks. 4 While the lamb is charring, make the polenta. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow, thin stream (to prevent clumping.) Simmer, stirring occasionally, until polenta thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and parmesan. 5 Serve the lamb shoulder with the polenta on the side. f
Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann’s
This beloved dessert might just be the most comforting way to end a special meal – or a Tuesday.
ING R E DIE NTS ◆◆ 1 loaf day-old white bread ◆◆ 1½ cups whole milk ◆◆ 1½ cups heavy (35%)
cream ◆◆ 3 large eggs ◆◆ 5 large egg yolks ◆◆ ½ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar,
divided ◆◆ 1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease an 11x7-inch baking dish with unsalted butter and dust with sugar. Tap out the excess sugar. 2 Cut the bread into 1-inch slices, then cut each slice into 6 pieces. Scatter them into the baking dish. The bread should be just the right amount of cubes to fill the baking dish. 3 To prepare the custard, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil; remove from the heat. 4 Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until blended. Add ½ cup of sugar and the salt and whisk until blended. Slowly add hot milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly to ensure the eggs don’t curdle. 5 Pour the custard over the bread. Press down on the bread every now and then to make sure each cube soaks up the custard. The baking dish should be about three-quarters full and the bread exposed above the custard. Cover the baking dish with parchment paper and then cover tightly with foil. 6 Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the baking dish. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the pudding is springy and set, not wet and runny – a knife will come out clean. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on. Remove the baking dish from the water bath and uncover it. 7 Sprinkle the bread pudding with the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and return to the oven to brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes, then serve warm. f
LIKE WINE, COFFEE CULTURE IS EQUALLY COMPLEX
BUT FIRST, COFFEE Carlton Mbavarira, head barista at lbs., on why coffee should not be an afterthought for Toronto restaurants.
OST RESTAURANTS DON'T think of taking their coffee programme seriously. Yet when you consider that coffee is often the final experience of the visit, its significance is a no-brainer. A dinner out is an indulgence; a multifaceted sensory adventure. Coffee is a key ingredient in this mix and great restaurants end meals on a high note for coffee lovers. While eating out with a friend recently, I had a less than satisfying dinner. My lamb cut was chewy and tough and my companion’s mussels were unappetizing. As the owner came around to engage the guests, I shared my feedback without making a fuss. He ordered cappuccinos, on the house, and in a short time they arrived at our table. The milk was over steamed, too hot to the touch,
and would burn your tongue. Since we were already disappointed with our meal, this only made it worse. Unsurprisingly, we have not returned. The restaurant could have potentially redeemed the lackluster dining experience by having a good selection of coffee. Perhaps they were busy? We didn't care to find out. So why don’t more restaurants commit to serving better coffee? It costs money to develop a world class coffee programme, plus specialty coffee costs more per pound, so plenty of establishments shy away from it. On top of that, it takes at least 3-6 months to develop, and most places just don't have the patience to implement it. However, the benefits are numerous. Similar to wine culture, coffee culture
is equally complex. Restaurateurs believe having a sommelier on staff is a critical investment for their wine offerings and a way to establish their reputation on the restaurant scene. The same approach is necessary for a successful coffee menu. A coffee expert will select top-rate beans and execute each beverage to a standard that diners, sophisticated or otherwise, can come to recognize and appreciate. Coffee should be an additional course of a great dining event. Espresso, in particular, is great after a meal because it helps break down the food and is good for digestion. Plenty of restaurants in Toronto have great coffee programs run by some of the top specialty coffee roasters such as Pilot Coffee Roasters, Cut Coffee and Hale Coffee Roasters – but we still need more of this. My approach to coffee at lbs. was relatively simple: I added a few more coffee options like pour over which became a hit with guests, and educated them about drinks they were less familiar with, like my signature coffee, the cortado. The espressobased drink, which originated in Spain, is a visually appealing drink that uses micro foam steamed milk to cut the sharpness of the espresso. Another one I recommend to coffee enthusiasts is the flat white. Developed in Melbourne, Australia, it's velvety and smooth with less air bubbles than a latte, giving you a perfectly balanced beverage. At lbs., I was also directly involved in planning and costing out new coffee offerings and given full control to rework the coffee programme completely. Because we were already using specialty beans by Cut Coffee, I was able to convince lbs. of the benefits of adding even more options. The bottom line? The dining experience should be harmonious, with all moving parts working together – and coffee should never be an afterthought. f
— PART 2 —
FEAST “GENETICS HAS MADE THE REAL DIFFERENCE IN BRINGING ONTARIO BEEF INTO THE TOP TIER.” THE BEEF STOPS HERE, 054
036 FINDING VINO | 042 NOODS FLASH | 048 SIR MIX-A-LOT 054 THE BEEF STOPS HERE | 060 COCKTAIL HOUR
WINE 101: FINDING VINO From terms to terroir and glassware to grapes, we cover the basics of wine knowledge to make the search for fermented enlightenment more enjoyable.
F YOU ENJOY drinking wine, there’s a pretty good chance that from time to time, you’ve entertained the idea of learning more about it. But until now, something (or someone) has always stopped you from seriously exploring it. Perhaps a wine snob told you that your favourite bottle of red was sewage. Or maybe you assumed that knowing your way around a wine list involved dropping oodles of your hard-earned cash on fancy bottles from the vintage section of the LCBO. The good news? There’s absolutely no reason why drinking wine should be
intimidating or reserved for aficionados. Anyone can learn more about adult grape juice, and the best part is that there is no right or wrong way to enjoy it – only personal preference. The key is to have fun, take notes and above all, experiment with lots of different wine (you’re welcome). Learning about wine is a lifelong process and we couldn’t possibly fit everything into one article – but to get you started, we’ve outlined some of the basics to set you on your path to wine wisdom. We talked to experts on how to taste, buy and pair wines, as well as how to host a wine tasting party with friends. f
Know your vino lingo: Here are a few handy vine terms to get you started. Acidity
A wine’s sour taste or tartness. Wines like riesling have a high acidity.
This refers to a wine’s density, weight and mouthfeel on your palate – heavy or light. Often referred to as light- medium- or full-bodied.
When all the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation. Dry wines have no residual sugar and are not sweet.
The streaks that form on the glass after swirling, indicating alcohol content and sweetness in wine.
Wine regions outside traditional wine-growing areas of Europe, like the U.S., Canada, Argentina or Chile.
The aroma or bouquet of a wine.
Primarily European countries with long histories of winemaking, like France, Spain or Italy.
A wine that has spent time in contact with white-wine grape skins.
Wines with perceptible residual sugar. This does not mean fruity. Photography: Kishivan
A compound that makes wine taste astringent and creates a drying sensation. Comes from grape skins and seeds or from oak barrels.
A French term to describe the geography, soil and climate that influence the characteristics of wine.
A wine made from one type of grape and named after it, like chardonnay.
A roadmap to start your journey to wine expertise in Ontario. Niagara-on-the-Lake
If it’s your first venture into Ontario wine, the best place to start is NOTL. Skip traffic and take the 13-minute flight (via FlyGTA) straight into the province’s oldest wine region. Along Niagara Stone Road you’ll find popular wine houses like Trius, Stratus, Big Head and JacksonTriggs. Niagara’s warmer climate, sandy loam soils and the moderating effect of the lake generally make it easier to grow varieties like cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.
“The Bench” is all about boutique producers that strive to focus on the characteristics of individual parcels of plot. The topography is complex, with ample dolomitic limestone imparting a sense of minerality to the wines. Make sure you stick to varieties like riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir. This is also one of Ontario’s most picturesque wine regions, with gentle rolling hills and rising elevation giving spectacular views of the lake. You’ll hear the word “terroir” being thrown around at tasting rooms as people discuss a vineyard’s individual character.
Prince Edward County
PEC’s wineries are younger than ones in Niagara and tend to be a bit less polished. They have fostered an entrepreneurial and experimental approach to winemaking. The climate is cooler in PEC with deep valleys and limestone prevalent throughout the region, drawing comparisons to regions like Burgundy, France. PEC is also home to sandy beaches and great chefs have started moving up from Toronto to open farm-focused restaurants.
Sommelier and wine producer Will Predhomme walks us through the basics of selecting and tasting wine. Do your research
You start with the foundations when you’re building a house and it’s the same with wine. Start with the most common varieties. Whites: Chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Reds: Cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shiraz and sangiovese. Find out who produces which wine and where in the world it comes from.
Start with what you know
Friends and family often ask me “What wine should I get?” That’s like a stranger asking me to pick out their clothes for them. Even if people don’t know what they like, they generally have a default wine. Start there and move over, one at a time.
BITES AND SIPS
From tricky to traditional, these are the wine and food pairings that will keep your guests happy.
While charcuterie boards and wine are a natural pair, figuring out which wines to serve with your meaty masterpiece can be a challenge – particularly when you consider that a well-executed board has a variety of different flavours and textures. The acidity of dry sherry can help cut through the fat of your meats. Sparkling wines are another allround good bet because they’re light enough to match milder flavours on your board, but their brightness is also a good match for heavier meats.
Photography: Regions by Suresh Doss; Glass by Olga Kim; Cheese by Dmitry Lityagin
I think 99 out of 100 people just want to enjoy wine and have a little bit of context.
Use your nose
Don’t judge everything by the smell – taste is just as important and often mimics the aroma. Sommeliers and winemakers train their noses for years, so keep things simple. Smell the wine to make sure it’s appealing. To experiment, plug your nose and take a sip without allowing any wine in. Then unplug your nose and swirl the wine around in your mouth – it should taste more vibrant and intense because you’re using your senses of smell and taste.
When to spit
If you’re going to taste 20 wines in an hour at a professional-style tasting, there’s a good reason to spit, but it may not be appropriate at a dinner party. If you drink too many different wines, you won’t remember anything about them, so be cautious of your consumption before committing to another.
How to navigate a wine list
In 2018, most restaurants have a sommelier on staff who is knowledgeable about their wine list. Start with the wines you recognize and give clear direction. Go for what the place is known for, use the resources on hand or use a secondary resource like an app.
START WITH THE WINES YOU RECOGNIZE AND GIVE DIRECTIONS
If you’re hosting an outdoor cookout on those last warm autumn evenings or bringing the flavours of summer to a wintery night with a grilled meal, you’ll need the right wine to pair with your perfectly-charred favourites. Bold red wines go well with grilled meat – try a fruity red like a pinot noir with pork, while a shiraz or bordeaux will bring out the peppery flavour of beef. If you’re throwing fish or chicken on the grill, go for a full-flavoured white that won’t overwhelm their subtle tastes.
Most hosts will offer guests a choice of white or red wine with Thanksgiving dinner and, fortunately, both pair well. Opt for fruit-forward wines, which will complement the salty, hearty meal. Go for lighter reds like pinot noir, which have delicate fruit flavours. For whites, try riesling, which goes nicely with the mix of spicy, salty and sweet on your plate.
– Will Predhomme
Angela Aiello, a.k.a. @SuperWineGirl, shows us how to be the host with the most at your next tasting event. Pick a theme
Choose a theme that’s going to interest you and your guests. You could open up your own wine collection, but it’s much more fun if you ask guests to each bring a bottle and go on a wine adventure. Focus on a country, region or grape. Food is another great option – why not throw a pecorino party? It doesn’t matter what theme you pick, as long as you’re wine-curious.
Make sure you showcase the right glassware. Riedel has been making glasses for every type of wine for 11 generations. (You can find them at a discount at Winners or HomeSense.) Another more creative twist is to let people pick their own glass – whether it’s a burgundy glass or a mug – so they always know which one belongs to them. Wine glass markers are another way to avoid confusion.
Bob Bermann, manager of Barberian’s Steakhouse – home to one of the largest wine cellars in Canada – takes us through the ins and outs of home cellaring.
Decant, decant, decant
Buy a great decanter and decant every type of wine. I’m not just talking about red wines; you can decant champagne or anything you’re going to drink quickly enough. It’s such an easy way to add beauty and elegance to your party.
Go with the flow
I firmly believe in having a strong flow at any wine tasting event. You can pattern your evening by matching wines with food profiles. Start with a lighter cheese and move on to blue cheese with dessert. Progress from dry to sweet and intersperse with sparkling wine to recalibrate your palate. Starting off with a dry sherry is another interesting option.
BUY A GREAT DECANTER AND DECANT EVERY TYPE OF WINE
– Angela Aiello
Decide if cellaring is right for you
Before you begin aging and collecting wine, start drinking and trying different kinds to see if you like the older wines. Aging wines can’t be done casually – you have to wait for a minimum of five years.
Do your homework
You can’t choose wine based on the colour of the label or the sound of the name, put it in the cellar and see what happens. You have to do your homework to find out which wines are worth aging.
Only fill your wine glass one-third so you have room to play with your drink. You’ll want to swirl and aerate it to enjoy small nuances. After all, wine is an art, so take your time. Never judge a wine on your first sip and give your palate a chance to adapt. Also, have water available for guests.
Set up the right conditions
The most important thing you need is patience. Cellaring wine isn’t like having a goldfish tank – you have to be able to walk away from the bottles and leave them alone. Categorize, organize and label your wines so you can avoid moving them around. ABOVE: Arron Barberian, owner of Barberian’s Steak House
Photography: Decanter by il21
Talking about wine is not just important for learning more about what you like it’s a great social lubricant. As a host, you can prompt conversation by coming up with some questions, or for fun, try playing with the price tags. Can guests distinguish an expensive bottle of wine from a cheap one?
You should never just buy one bottle to age. After waiting five years you should at least have two or three of them to enjoy. Cellar wines in a dark place that’s 10 to 15 C throughout the year. Always store the bottles on their side.
NOODS FLASH Torontoâ€™s noodle houses draw inspiration from all over Asia. These are five of the best, deconstructed. WORDS BY KATIE BRIDGES PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAILEE MANDEL ART DIRECTION BY APRIL TRAN
T Photograph by ###
HICK OR THIN, rice or egg noodles. Spicy or sweet, creamy or lean. You could spend all fall exploring the city’s tastiest noodle soups and never get bored. While the diversity of this hearty dish is what makes it so appealing, there’s something universally comforting about a bowl of hot, steaming broth. We’ve closed the door on summer and hibernation season is almost upon us, meaning right now is the time to find your favourite. The popular Asian staple is represented in all its wonderful variants across Toronto’s neighbourhoods, but we’ve selected our all-stars. Whether you’re lining up for Northern Thai food downtown, noshing on hand-pulled noodles in North York or slurping ramen on Bloor, there’s a soup for every soul. f
BRAISED BEEF SHANK NOODLES
Omni Palace, 235 Consumers Rd. E1 When Omni Palace, a Chinese restaurant chain known for its hand-pulled noodles, landed in Toronto this summer, there was much fanfare. But there’s more than buzz to back it up – their tender braised beef shank and signature chewy noodles are worth the trip to North York. omnipalace.ca
Clockwise, left page: Shanghai bok choy, braised beef shank, tsaoko, daikon, peppercorns, goji berries Clockwise, right page: Hand-pulled noodles, star anise, chili oil, cilantro, cinnamon, broth, bay leaves, nutmeg
BÚN BÒ HUÊ´
Bong Lua, 2572 Birchmount Rd. It might not seem like much, but Bong Lua, located in a plaza in Scarborough, has been quietly serving some of the best Vietnamese cuisine in the city since 2011. Their bún bò ‘ – a soup which originated in the central huê Vietnamese city of Huê, consisting of rice vermicelli and beef – is not to be missed.
Clockwise: Sliced beef, pork sausage, thai basil, broth, spice blend, chilies, bean sprouts, red and white cabbage, rice stick noodles, lemon
Pai, 18 Duncan St.
The line that goes up the stairs and out the door should give you an indication of Paiâ€™s enduring popularity. If you want to know why, try the khao soi, a Northern Thai street food classic that combines coconut curry with yellow egg noodles, which do double duty in the dish and served as a crispy nest on top. paitoronto.com Photograph by ###
Clockwise: Broth, egg noodles, braised veal heel, cilantro, crispy egg noodles, shallots, green onion, chili oil, pickled green mustard vegetable, lime
PORK ORIGINAL RAMEN
Kinton Ramen, 668 Bloor St. W.
A big player in the noodle game, Kinton Ramen is well-represented in Toronto with nine locations dotted around the GTA. We love the popular chain for its customizable menu; select your protein, flavour and noodle thickness. Our perfect pick is the original pork, with sea salt, seasoned egg, nori, scallion and broth. kintonramen.com
Clockwise: Seasoned egg, pork broth, nori, pork belly, pork shoulder, noodles, scallion
Soos, 94 Ossington Ave. Malaysian food doesnâ€™t always get the attention it deserves - but when Soos opened on the Ossington strip, we sat up and took notice. Penang-born chef Tricia Soo has been making Malaysian food trendy and accessible with her family for many years, serving dishes like their laksa with chicken, prawn and tofu balls in a spicy, red broth. soostoronto.com
Clockwise: Tofu ball, chicken, prawn, galangal, mee, vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint, daun kesum, coconut milk, curry broth, paste, sambal, chili oil
Photograph by ###
Suresh Doss talks to Frankie Solarik about how ten years of BarChef cocktails helped Toronto shake its clubbing image. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAYLA ROCCA
DECADE AGO, TORONTO’S cocktail scene was limited to a handful of establishments that either specialized in the classics or ones that presented every variation of a neoncoloured martini possible. We were a city obsessed with late nights and clubbing but Toronto didn’t care for elevated drinks. Then came BarChef, the lonely progressive cocktail bar on Queen West where bartender and owner Frankie Solarik paved the way for a new generation of modernist drinks. Solarik presented his cocktail concoctions like dishes in a Michelin-starred restaurant; they arrived at the table as elaborate showpieces. Guests had to be able to handle whatever ingredients Solarik managed to get his hands on. His goal was to entertain and stimulate your senses. Every drink was an attempt to bridge the past with the present through nostalgia and emotions. Now turning ten, the bar’s influence has been pivotal in putting Toronto’s drink scene on the international map. BarChef still stands alone as the most creative bar in the city, where top chefs go to seek inspiration when they’re in town. We sat down with Solarik to talk about his journey and how a Ferran Adrià documentary changed his life and approach to cocktail making. You run a modernist bar that has been open for longer than most restaurants. This is a dream come true, the fact that we have managed to stay open this long and stay relevant at the same time. It has always been about pushing the envelope since day one. Evolving technically, using new ingredients, new equipment. New approach to the craft. That’s why we have stayed relevant and lead the path in terms of what has been done for the consideration of modern cocktails. There wasn’t much near you a decade ago. There were no cocktail bars on this stretch of Queen West when we found this place. It was formerly a jazz lounge. The space really spoke to us, we built everything ourselves. At the time we were a city that was getting used to the idea of interesting syrups and garnishes behind the bar, but that was about as forward-thinking as it was. →
LEFT: The success of BarChef led to a book of cocktail recipes, divided by season. The collection featured a foreword by Grant Achatz
LEFT: Before opening BarChef, Frankie Solarik tended bar at Kultura. RIGHT: The elderflowers and fougère ($30) is all things green in a glass
BarChef was designed to be a cocktail bar with zero limitations. With the cocktail community, there has always been a commitment to traditions. My approach was different, I was never interested in classic cocktails. They’re not going anywhere. I have always paid respect to classic drinks but I never wanted to replicate them. I wanted to see what was possible and how far we can take the basic mainframe of bitter component, sweetness, alcohol and how far we can go with that. I don’t think many diners were thinking about modernist anything in 2008. Yes, 2008 was a milestone year for Toronto. The city felt like it was ready to grow up. The reception was soft at first. We were coming out of a recession. The price point was pretty high. Our smoked Manhattan was $45. There were days when there were no guests for the first few months. It was a very new thing to Toronto. We stayed true, and that’s why we managed to make it last. We started to receive a lot of press, international especially, and accolades from chefs like Grant Achatz of Alinea. We were being compared to cities like Shanghai and Paris.
→ In many ways it was either about classic drinks or something from an episode of Sex and the City, right? There was a huge emphasis on classic cocktails and colourful martinis. Bartenders were either focusing on something very old or it was very fruity and sweet. I was working at Kultura at the time before we opened BarChef, that’s where I was starting to tinker with drinks from the kitchen, making small changes here and there. You were running your drink experiments from the Kultura kitchen? Well that’s how it all started. At Kultura I was given free reign to play with my drinks. For me it has always been about experimenting with ingredients, and the first place I could find those ingredients was in the kitchen. We were an internationally focused restaurant with a variety of food on the menu; it gave me the ability to play with exotic ingredients. The kitchen’s mise en place became my own.
Kultura was known for having a boundary pushing drinks menu but BarChef was a huge step up from that. When I left Kultura and we got this space, there was some time during our build where I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was at home one night and I came across the Anthony Bourdain documentary on Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli. When I saw that, I became completely obsessed. Bourdain’s emotions and facial reactions to Adrià’s food resonated with me. I wanted to evoke that emotion in my guests. I wanted to challenge the comfort level. The second I saw that, I started experimenting at home with any food item I could get my hands on whether it was plums, herbs or what not. That’s when we decided to incorporate a full modernist programme at BarChef. You’ve mentioned that you’re self-taught. What was that journey like when you were building the first menu?
My first drink here was the smoked Manhattan. That was our first hit. When I was working at Kultura, I was watching Iron Chef and Bobby Flay was the guest chef. I think the challenge was chocolate. Flay presented this dish to the judges, it was a big ceramic bowl with a lid covering it. He lifted the bowl and →
WE WERE BEING COMPARED TO CITIES LIKE SHANGHAI AND PARIS
RIGHT: The signature smoked Manhattan ($50) comes as a showstopping presentation but is also about the vanillahickory flavour
→ smoke billowed out. I saw the reactions on the judges’ faces. I said I needed to smoke a cocktail. I started playing around with vases and vanilla beans, the first expression. I blow-torched a vanilla bean and smoked a bean, and from there I was like: “Wow this is insane.” It’s still very much the same drink. Even with that first drink, was the goal to create a sensory experience? The term “auditorium of perspective” puts it simply. In terms of what it is I am trying to achieve. You read the menu and maybe it sounds interesting and captivates you enough to have it come out, and see the visual presentation. It’s like going into a theatre for a 3D movie, that’s the idea. For me, the whole reason I do what I do is to get that visceral and nostalgic experience.
Things that you have experienced in the past may resurface when you see the drink, and you can marry that with new feelings and
EVERY DRINK STARTS AS A DRAWING. MY PLACE IS LITTERED
experiences based on how you interact with the drink, how you touch it and how it feels and tastes. I have always admired the tactile nature of the drinks here, but that must be a challenge to do with each drink. I want people to be fully in the environment of the drinks, because you create your own personal references from the composition. Like in the case of our black truffle snow drink where you get all these different textures between the coconut foam, the smoked salt, and the aromas of black truffle. From a creative perspective, how far have you gone to do this? Every drink starts off as a drawing. My place is littered with these drawings of drinks. I
BARCHEF WAS NEVER PART OF THE CLIQUE. WE DID OUR OWN THING storyboard them and let them evolve over time. I almost view it as different frames of the same painting as I try to work towards the end result. The geometric lavender is by far my favourite because it looks so abstract. The geometric manipulation of ingredients that grow in the wilderness have been tamed so that customers can experience something familiar and foreign at the same time.
Where does that take us? To continue and improve. I know for us, it’s a journey of the next menu. We’ve been working on the fall menu for the last six months. We also have our batched programme. Batched drinks that we’ve started to sell at the LCBO where we’ve tried to make the liquid the exact same way we do here at BarChef. It’s still made in small batches, I’m hand toasting the chamomile. I find most batched cocktails to be on the sweet side. Savoury is an important thing. So is the weight of liquid on the palate. We’ve tried to incorporate mouth feel as much as possible. Sometimes that means incorporating flavored syrups like rosemary and chamomile which give another level of complexity. We’ve
got a team working with a refractometer to make sure everything is consistent with sugar content. Savoury is interesting because it can be about umami and salt. Lately we’ve been pushing that as much as possible. Considering you’re making these elaborate drinks that feel like showpieces, is the bar set high when you go out for a drink? I prefer simple drinks when I go out, like the martinez. I may be old school when I go out to drink but for me it is about meeting the community and meeting bartenders, seeing new places. We have finally started to have a foothold in the international community. It’s very cool. Bartending in the industry used to be a stepping stone to get you somewhere else. Now, people are considering the craft a real profession. f
It seems that, for the most part, guests have come along for the ride. Toronto is a much better cocktail city now. The modernist cocktail is ubiquitous now. I feel that. It is much more acceptable. Diners’ palates have grown up since the clubbing days. The same generation that were clubbing in the mid-2000s are now regulars here because they like our presentations. They know that we’re not a bar that’s regurgitating “corpse reviver” recipes. The industry has evolved as well. In what sense? The industry has become more supportive of each other. BarChef was never really part of the clique – we always did our own thing, but there is camaraderie now more than ever before. Even though traditional mixologists don’t dig what we do, they send guests our way. We’re different, we are more of a celebratory place compared to your traditional bar, but the industry has really supported us. That helped make Toronto an internationally respected community. Toronto has had a stigma for a long time, we felt the need to be accepted somewhere else first. But what’s happening locally rivals anything internationally.
RIGHT: Their coconut and absinthe sour ($16) is an adapted hybrid of the piña colada and the green fairy. Approach with caution
THE BEEF STOPS HERE
Ontarioâ€™s beef industry is going through an explosive improvement in quality, writes David Ort, as he searches for the perfect recipe to capture this moment. PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDRO PEHAR
LEFT: Ribeyes join striploins and tenderloins on the Ontario-focused steak menu at Jacobs & Co.
EEF, LIKE CHEESE and wine before it, is a food product that has gone from only-good-if-it’simported to excellent-if-local. Even as recently as five years ago, USDA prime had the edge over Canadian on restaurant menus. And in terms of wagyu, Japan was the top of a list that also included Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., with no mention of Canada. Jacobs & Co., arguably Toronto’s top steakhouse, is championing the change. Their steak menu leads off with selections from places like Seaforth, Norfolk, Tweed and Bruce Mines – all in Ontario. “We deliberately dropped Nebraska beef in favour of Ontario,” says their executive chef, Danny McCallum. And one of the most prized cuts is a $294 ribeye from Wagyu Sekai in Puslinch, Ont. It’s from a cow that was raised by Ken Kurosawatsu, a master of wagyu genetics. “You can smell the manure and hay when he walks in,” says McCallum of farmer Ken’s rare and unannounced drop-offs. “We never know when he’s going to show up. Some years we might get three cow’sworth from him, some years six.” And McCallum is fine with that. The Sekai beef is so unusual that he has to keep a call list of customers who want to know the moment it hits the menu at Jacobs. One gentleman flies in from New York for it. The team at Jacobs is pleased to be one of the only places to try this super-exclusive beef but they also focus on day-in-day-out quality across their range. McCallum notes that his customers are eating a lot less meat than they used to, but “knowing where their beef comes from empowers people to feel comfortable with
GENETICS HAS BROUGHT ONTARIO BEEF INTO THE TOP TIER 56
that decision,” he says. For him, as a chef, it’s important to be able to call up one of his suppliers, like Kevin Van Groningen at VG Meats to find out how the cows are doing, what they’re eating and when they are going to the abattoir. That Simcoe, Ont. farm is one of the province’s leaders for beef traceability. Each of their finished carcasses is tagged and individually numbered so that chefs or butchers can check on their particulars. Companies like truLOCAL that specialize in delivering beef, especially grass-fed, directly to consumers are part of an obvious trend that has seen beef aficionados pay careful attention to what cows eat. Adding to that, McCallum thinks it’s genetics that has made the real difference for bringing Ontario into the top tier.
The movement has become local but he credits Creekstone Farms in Kansas with setting the model. In the U.S. only five or six per cent of beef receives prime certification, but Creekstone manages to hit between 20-25 per cent for animals they send to slaughter. The steaks at Jacobs are an excellent treat, dry-aged in one of their carefully monitored aging rooms and prepared masterfully. They only serve beef cut from the rib, striploin or tenderloin, so McCallum appreciates that other outlets make sure that the rest of the cows they’re cut from go to good use. His commitment to the big three cuts, doesn’t keep McCallum from experimenting. Genetically, most of his steaks come from angus, hereford or wagyu lines but he recently raised eyebrows by putting holstein on his steak menu.
ABOVE: Danny McCallum has led the kitchen team at Jacobs since 2010. RIGHT: Bone marrow adds unctuous depth to the sauce
CHUCK TAIL BORDELAISE ◆◆ 4 lbs chuck tail, in 2-inch cubes ◆◆ 3 Tbsp unsalted butter ◆◆ 3 carrots, peeled and diced ◆◆ 2 medium onions, peeled and diced ◆◆ 3 pieces bone marrow (4-5” long) ◆◆ 3 cups beef stock ◆◆ 2 cups fruity, bold red wine ◆◆ Small bunch thyme ◆◆ 3 bay leaves ◆◆ 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar ◆◆ 2 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Season beef generously with kosher salt. Get your largest Dutch oven hot over medium-high heat and brown beef in it. Don’t overcrowd. Remove beef. 2 Add butter, carrot and onion and cook until softened, about ten minutes. 3 Nestle bone marrow into vegetables so that one end contacts the pan bottom. Add stock, wine and herbs. Scrape the bottom to loosen flavourful bits. 4 Return beef to pot, cover and simmer over medium-low for four hours, removing the lid for the last hour. 5 Remove beef from stew. Scoop marrow from bones into the stew and discard bones. Add vinegar and mustard. Add black pepper and salt, to taste. Use an immersion blender to puree stew into a smooth sauce. 6 Serve beef with mashed potatoes, broiled mushrooms and green beans.
Ecklerlea Acres, in Seaforth, Ont., has started a programme that sees former dairy cows finished on a beef-cattle diet after they’ve been retired from having calves. This beef has a robust flavour and because of its age and slightly tougher texture, McCallum only serves the tenderloin. One of the outlets for the cuts lower down the beef price chain is butchers who sell to home cooks like me. After hearing so much about the dedication Ontario beef farmers are putting into their product I was fixated on the idea of making the perfect Ontario beef dish. The beef should be front and centre and there needs to be something special about the preparation that recognizes how much goes into raising beef. For insight on how best to do that, I got in touch with Spencer Cryan, the founder and co-owner of Bespoke Butchers on Queen East. (They recently moved from Liberty Village to Leslieville.) Cryan emphasizes that relationships and trust have a big impact on decisions like where to source their beef from. Penokean Hills, in Bruce Mines, west of Sudbury and almost to Sault Ste. Marie, is one farm that both Jacobs and Bespoke work with. It’s a vertically-integrated operation – something that Cryan points to as a sign of quality – and that means they control as much of the process as possible. They grow peas and barley (a fairly unusual combination as a diet for finishing beef cattle) on their own property and work with neighbours to get the rest of what they need. “A lot of grandfathered farms were losing their shirt,” Cryan says. So, having a viable operation at the centre of a community was a boon to the Algoma district. The end of the cow’s life matters just as much to the ethics and quality of beef. “We look for animals that are well cared for, but it’s difficult to justify that if we don’t also look at the slaughtering process,” Cryan says. Penokean Hills owns their own certified abattoir. As Ontario beef farmers have levelled up on feeding and genetics, slaughtering capacity has been the weak link. Necessary regulations mean that it’s expensive to certify an abattoir so they tend to be big, industrial operations where small farmers with only ten or fewer cattle get lost in the shuffle amongst bigger producers. Closer to my goal of understanding Ontario beef, but still without a showstopper recipe for bringing it home, I asked Cryan about his favourite cut and he had a →
LEFT: Primal cuts generally spend 30 to 70 days in the aging room
→ surprising answer: Chuck tail. Serratus ventralis is the Latin name for the main muscle that runs through the rectangular cut that’s part of the blade section. Cut properly, it looks a lot like a sirloin, but has more fat and flavour than its leaner cousin. Plus the toothsome grain is coarser and its connective tissue does a dynamite job of enriching sauces. It also usually sells for half the price of sirloin. Amazingly, it’s not easy to find. I talked to several butchers around Toronto and they said they could special order it for me. Some of the ones who had it in stock were hesitant to cut the best part of the blade off and sell it separately. (If it’s not from a super-premium source, the remainder could be sold as ground beef for burgers.) Bespoke has made chuck tail a standard specialty in their retail store. That helps balance out the home cook’s enduring preference for steak cuts – as does Bespoke’s growing focus on selling to chefs. The butchers sung chuck tail’s praises as a “knife and fork steak”. Tender enough to grill loaded with flavour. Looking at it in cross section, that savour obviously comes from the marbling that you’d usually only see in top prime ribeye.
Should I make my hard-won four pounds of chuck tail into steak or stew? The former is a slab of meat, at its best when covered in sauce. (Pipe down, purists, there any many thoroughly delicious options here beyond mass-market brown steak sauce.) The latter is a sauce with hunks of meat bathing in it. So, why do we have to pick one or the other? To satisfy our mood, partly, but mostly because of the weather. For obvious reasons, we’ve decided that summer is steak season
BONE MARROW IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT FOR BEEF ESSENCE IN YOUR MEAL
and winter is the time for stews. With cooler forecasts closing in and fall approaching, I went with a recipe that converts easily. Make it, as described, as a stew or leave the beef as steaks, grill them fast and hot over a blazing charcoal fire and start the sauce at step 2. The secret ingredient for making this dish worthy of Ontario’s world-class beef? Bone marrow. It’s the best way to get the essence of beef to permeate your meal (and its wonderful aroma throughout your house). Scooping it into a sauce for extra richness is an old French chef trick, the key to bordelaise sauce, and combines wonderfully with the flavours from a ripe, bold red wine. Even blended until smooth and thickened by vegetables, this sauce will still have a texture that is thinner than some steak sauces. Consider that the perfect opportunity to flavour a big pile of garlic mashed potatoes and broiled mushrooms – I like halved cremini and thickly sliced king oysters. Even in an ideal scenario, raising beef requires a huge amount of resources and effort. If we’re going to have that effect on our world, we should go all out, make the beefiest dish we can and decant a special bottle of red wine to enjoy it with. f
COCKTAIL HOUR The head barman at Maple Leaf Tavern has been around the world and brought his know-how home to help Canada’s finest whisky shine. PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS BY SURESH DOSS
MANHATTAN INGREDIENTS ◆◆ 21/2 oz Pike Creek Four Grain ◆◆ 11/4 oz Martini & Rossi sweet
vermouth ◆◆ 1 barspoon of Cherry Heering ◆◆ 2 dashes of cinnamon-infused
Angostura bitters Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with three brandied cherries on a skewer and an orange knot.
EN LEMIEUX FILLS his menu with classic cocktails from the 1800s. An unconventional path brought the 33 year old to the east side’s Maple Leaf Tavern. Born and raised in Montreal, Lemieux joined the Canadian Forces at 23. After a few years spent travelling across the country and internationally, he moved to London, England to pursue a career in journalism. He moonlighted as a bartender in local pubs and some of the city’s progressive cocktail bars. “The standard for me is to strive to get better and understand how the drink wants to be made. Every iteration should be better than the last” he says. Upon returning to Montreal, Lemieux found himself working at the Cloakroom Bar, the iconic 25-seat cocktail bar in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile, where he further cemented his niche in classic drinks. Lemieux credits his success to research:“I spend a lot of time reading old cocktail books from the 1860s to the 1930s.” In order to find the best iteration of a drink, you have to think like a musician: “Before you start thinking about creating cocktails, have a sound mastery of rudiments. The same as a musician, an understanding of scales, root structure, harmony, modality, before you move on to composition”. Now, as head bartender in the rehabilitated, century-old restaurant, his libations stand beside plates of grilled meat and elevated comfort food. He explains the Canadian focus: “We’re trying to use Canadian whisky as much as possible. It’s growing massively here and overseas. It’s an exciting time”. f
Photograph by ###
MAPLE LEAF TAVERN WHISKY SOUR IN G R ED IEN TS Cocktail ◆◆ 2 oz J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe ◆◆ 1 oz fresh-pressed lemon juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz rich muscovado syrup * ◆◆ 2 dashes Angostura bitters ◆◆ 1 egg white
Syrup ◆◆ 2 parts muscovado sugar ◆◆ 1 part boiling water
Combine muscovado sugar and boiling water in a high speed mixer and blend until sugar is fully dissolved. Combine all the ingredients in a Boston shaker. Shake without ice to emulsify. Add ice, shake and fine strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with angostura bitters.
TORONTO COCKTAIL ING REDIENTS ◆◆ 2 oz Gooderham & Worts Four
Grain Canadian whisky ◆◆ 1/4 oz Fernet Branca ◆◆ 1/4 oz simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir, then strain. Pour into a chilled coupe and garnish with a strip of orange zest.
Photograph by ###
A BREW-TIFUL DAY
Pilot Cold Brew is giving Canadians a nitro boost they can trust thanks to their commitment to sourcing, roasting and brewing their coffee ethically and sustainably.
N A DYNAMIC, ever-changing city like Toronto, there are bound to be plenty of firsts. But one of our favourite ground-breakers arrived in the form of Pilot Coffee Roasters (PCR), the creators of the first Canadian-made, nitro-infused cold brew in a can. PCR, a proudly Canadian company, started out as a team of two almost a decade ago. Fast forward to 2018 and the company has six locations across Toronto, but the ideology is still the same; it’s more than just great coffee. Greatness is sourced at every step of the way; from tracking down exceptional coffee growers and farmers and working with them on the ground to selecting each bean and developing the perfect roast profile. The cold brew production, crafted at their east end roastery, is
no different. Their coffee is brewed, canned, fine filtered and nitro infused for a rich, creamy texture. Cold brew coffee has been fuelling our caffeine addiction all summer, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Conveniently packaged in can form, Pilot Cold Brew (available in Black and Latte) can be enjoyed on-the-go long into autumn without risking third degree burns on your daily dash to the TTC. Pilot Cold Brew Black consists of their Direct Trade speciality coffee, cold water and absolutely nothing else – so your liquid energy isn't full of empty calories. Pilot Coffee Roasters is serious about the science behind coffee, which is why each vessel contains the optimum serving – one that won’t leave you wanting more, or wasting a drop. It’s
exactly this philosophy that led them to develop a shelf stable product that will keep its complex flavours and smooth effervescence. Pilot Cold Brew Black lasts for 4.5 months if refrigerated, while their Latte is good dry stored for up to 12 months in the pantry, meaning you can stock up. Since innovation is in their DNA, PCR has rebranded their iconic packaging. The distinctive geometric designs are gone but their sharp hexagon and distinct colours remain, so you'll easily recognize them on the shelf. Ethical, sustainable cold brew coffee you can trust – because staying caffeinated shouldn’t be a grind. Pilot Cold Brew is available in single cans, 4-packs, 12 and 24-pack trays. ● To find out more visit pilotcoffeeroasters.com
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “ARCHITECTURE IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF BUFFALO’S CULTURAL PROWESS.” INSIDER, 082
070 RING AROUND THE ROSÉ | 082 INSIDER | 084 BOTTLE SERVICE 091 FOODISM’S FINEST | 093 THE DIGEST | 094 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
THE ORIGIN SERIES MA IS ON VE UVE CLICQUOT
“2018 MARKS THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF LA GRANDE DAME'S INVENTION: BLENDED ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE.” RING AROUND THE ROSÉ, 070
RING AROUND THE ROSÉ With food by Joël Robuchon and plenty of popped corks, Jennifer Chan finds out how Veuve Clicquot's rosé champagne celebrated its 200th birthday. 70
HE DISTINCTIVE POP of a cork and the subsequent chime of crystal vibrating through the air: these are the familiar sounds that signal the start to any celebration. And for royals on a throne to the masses on a dance floor, no other wine has managed to capture the blend of both opulence and cheer quite like champagne. On screen, in books, and with that distinctive yellow label peppered on tables everywhere, no other brand is quite as recognizable today as Veuve Clicquot. Founded in 1772 by Philippe ClicquotMuiron, this house, or maison, has deep roots in the Champagne region and has helped to define what is today a €4.9 billion ($7.4 billion) global industry. But in addition to surviving the test of time, Veuve Clicquot has made many entries in the history books with a notable list of inventions, innovations, and trailblazing. Anachronistically for the 19th century, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the widow – or veuve in French – of the founder’s son, was the force behind these milestones. Her husband died in 1805 and instead of relinquishing the reins of the business to a male relative as was expected, Ponsardin fought objection and resistance and took hold of a business that included banking and wool trading, and turned it solely toward champagne production. Thus she was billed as the first woman to take over a champagne house, and with her skill in wine making, she would propel the maison to international success and become a critical contributor to the development of the industry. Her peers would come to refer to her as the “Grande →
WORLD CHAMP Not all sparkling wines are made equal. If you’re sipping champagne, the effervescent wine in your glass was produced in Champagne, France. The name is protected by EU law.
ABOVE: Veuve Clicquot is a globally recognized name in champagne making and also as a vineyard owner in France
Its history as a drink for aristocrats and royalty goes back as far as the 17th century. Champagne houses have regimented growing methods to produce sparkling wine predominantly with chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. While there are various styles of champagne, you can generally expect a drink that tastes crisp and has a brioche-like quality on the palate.
→ Dame of Champagne”. Her most recognizable contribution is the invention of the riddling rack in 1816. The device, a flat wooden board with holes drilled at a downward angle, allows the spent yeast and sediment to collect into the neck of the bottle for disgorgement, so that the wine is free of deposits. This would revolutionalize the scale of the champagne-making process. On a more fanciful bent, the tradition of sabrage also has loose ties to Madame Clicquot. It is said that to secure passage of shipments to Russia across blockades, she would bribe Prussian guards with bottles of champagne, which they would then open with their swords. Another version has her entertaining Napoleon’s officers, and they would open bottles of champagne with their sabres to impress the widow. Though some details of history have lost their clarity, there is no denying that Ponsardin was a savvy businesswoman. Her trade was not with Russia alone; the end of the 18th century saw distribution to the U.S. and in 1847, exports to China began. Due to her audacity and determination, she not only established champagne as the drink of royals but also secured the demand for her product
beyond her own borders. To add to the list of firsts, Madame Clicquot again broke tradition and added her favourite red-wine grape parcels from the Bouzy region to her still wines in the pursuit of both taste and aesthetics. This blended wine – instead of the more traditional method of skin contact – produced a flavour profile that proved to be a hit with champagne drinkers. Despite some debate on exactly when she developed this recipe, 2018 is the year Veuve Clicquot recognizes as the 200th anniversary of La Grande Dame’s invention: Blended rosé champagne. To mark this bicentennial, celebrations have been ongoing throughout the year across cities like New York, Paris, and Copenhagen. But it was to the heart of Champagne, in the city of Reims, that Veuve Clicquot invited guests and friends from across the globe to learn about their library of wines, discover the rich history of their vineyards and to generally revel in rosé. We begin at the Hôtel du Marc, Veuve Clicquot’s private hotel. It was a rare treat to step beyond the doors of this renovated 19th-century country house with its austere, classic lines matched with contemporary
ABOVE: A dose of juice from pinot noir grapes gives Veuve's rosé champagne its distinctive hue
sdecor featuring art that includes the Campagna brothers, Pablo Reinoso, and even a polka-dotted portrait of Ponsardin herself by Yayoi Kusama. I spent a morning being tutored on the wines that make up their rosés, from
their non-vintage reds to the best of their vineyards, the Clos Colin in Bouzy. Juicy red berries, cherries, hints of stone and a kiss of tartness characterize these wines for me, to varying degrees. And they all have a part in making up one of the rosés: their flagship, a vintage, Cave Privée, or La Grande Dame. These are benchmark rosés for good reason. But what is wine without food? None other than chef Joël Robuchon (who passed away this August) oversaw our seven-course lunch. A longtime partner of Veuve Clicquot, the chef spoke of how he especially wanted to rise to the challenge of creating an artichoke dish – notoriously difficult to pair – for this auspicious occasion. He served the vegetable carpaccio style, with a light kiss of lemon to balance out the shaved foie gras, a kick of mustard and toasted crisps. This was his preferred dish to pair with the beautifully complex La Grande Dame rosé 2006. We left this cocoon of wine and food, well sated. Later, under an overcast sky, a trail of signature yellow boots created a splash of colour against the muted greys, greens and browns of a still slumbering vineyard in Bouzy. It is there, standing amongst those vines, that the Maison’s 10th and current cellar master, Dominique Demarville, spoke of the 350 hectares that are nearly free of herbicides and Veuve Clicquot’s commitment to becoming completely free of chemicals over the next few years. That’s inspired by an ecological goal, but also Madame Clicquot’s motto: “Only one quality, the finest.” Another sign of quality is that all →
IN THE PAST, CHAMPAGNE WAS MUCH SWEETER THAN WINE IS TODAY → winemakers at Veuve Clicquot have a degree in oenology – not a strict requirement for those working in the French wine industry. Gaëlle Goossens, chief winemaker at Veuve Clicquot spoke of the five years of schooling she went through before she earned the right to start learning the art of winemaking: “There is the science, and then there is the experience.” says Goossens. As well as terroir, the traditional method – a strict and well-defined process – is what defines champagne. The grapes are pressed, yeast is added and the juice undergoes the first fermentation. The resulting high-acid wine is blended with ones from Veuve’s various vineyards. The second fermentation happens in the bottle with a dosage of yeast and sugar. A temporary closure is used to stop the bottles and they’re laid on their side in a cellar. AOC rules for champagne require that non-vintage champagne ages for at least 15 months, longer for vintage bottlings.
ABOVE: With good reason, Veuve put on a series of luxe celebrations to mark their rosé champagne's 200th birthday
Once this stage is completed, riddling takes place on a device similar to the riddling rack Madame Clicquot invented. The bottles are turned cap-down and manipulated (by hand in the case of the most prestigious champagne) so that the yeast sediment settles into the neck of the bottle. The lees are disgorged and the lost liquid is replaced with a “dosage” of base wine and sugar. The bottles are then corked and aged before being shipped around the world. Historically, champagne was sweeter than today’s wine, as well as having higher concentrations of minerals like iron, copper and salt. Because the original sugar has been consumed during fermentation, the dosage determines a champagne's sweetness and is meant to balance its acidity. Chef Robuchon said that he had found the dosage too high in the past; which is a very subjective point. Even with a team of winemakers, ultimately the final decision is made by the cellar master. But Goossens says: “It’s because of the balance of the wine that you have to add more or less sugar. So if you consider the balance of your wine, you don’t have to argue.” Despite talk of variation, the sugar
levels in the dosage don’t change very much from year to year. While changes are inevitable – the production method is more automated, the climate shifts, and the vineyards themselves evolve – Veuve Clicquot maintains a high quality and consistent flavour profile. That trademark style is a strong contributor to Veuve Clicquot’s dominant market position. Champagne’s official shipment numbers released in March show that France continues to be the primary consumer of the 307 million bottles shipped in 2017. But the combined efforts of the rest of the world are starting to gain ground. Total exports have reached an equilibrium at 50 per cent of production, with the U.K. out-pacing the rest of the export pack by a good margin. But the U.S., and especially Japan, are burgeoning markets, with Canada showing a modest 12 per cent growth in 2016. It’s not hard to love that bready aroma teasing your sense of smell and to luxuriate in the feel of fine effervescence dancing on your tongue. It is acidic with a suggestion of sweetness, and perfect for all occasions, from the mundane to celebratory, at all hours of the day, the world over. f
Pumpkin Bread This incredibly moist, but not too sweet pumpkin bread gets its flavour from a blend of fragrant spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Cut into the bread and you’ll discover a rich ribbon of cream cheese that compliments the texture of this bread perfectly. Serve alongside a cup of hot tea or coffee for a nice afternoon treat. Servings: 12 slices Prep Time: 30 minutes Bake Time: 1 hour 15 minutes ………………………………………………….. Ingredients 2½ cups (625 mL) 2 tsp (10 mL) 1 tsp (5 mL) 1 tsp (5 mL) ½ tsp (2 mL) ¼ tsp (1 mL) ¼ tsp (1 mL) ¾ cup (175 mL) ¾ cup (175 mL) 3 ¾ cup (175 mL) 1 cup (250 mL)
all-purpose flour baking powder baking soda ground cinnamon ground nutmeg ground allspice salt butter, at room temperature light brown sugar, packed eggs pure maple syrup pumpkin purée
¼ cup (50 mL) 2 tsp (10 mL)
grated zucchini vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling: 1 pkg (250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature 1 egg, at room temperature ½ cup (125 mL) icing sugar 2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
FALL IN LOVE WITH OUR EGGS-CELLENT VERSION OF PUMPKIN SPICE.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180° C). Generously coat 9 x 5-inch (2 L) metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until combined. Add eggs, mix until combined. Add maple syrup, pumpkin purée, zucchini and vanilla; mix until blended. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until no streaks of flour remain in mixing bowl; do not overmix. In medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, egg and sugar until combined. Add flour, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing gently on low, until blended. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan; smooth surface. Spoon cream cheese over batter; smooth surface. Spread remaining batter over top. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack. ………………………………………………….. Nutrients per serving (1 slice): 432 calories, 21 g total fat, 12 g saturated fat, 381 mg sodium, 55 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 7 g protein.
The Mulder Family, Egg Farmers, Chatsworth, ON
BURST THE BUBBLE Don't wait for a special occasion – celebrate everyday with S. Pellegrino Essenza.
ROMOTIONS. BIRTHDAYS. FRIDAYS. There are plenty of celebratory occasions that necessitate popping a bottle of something fizzy. However, these special moments are usually consigned to red letter days and not a part of our daily routine. We think it’s time to shift our nineto-five into overdrive, with a burst of everyday bubbles and a touch of indulgence – and S. Pellegrino knows exactly what we mean. That's why they’ve created S. Pellegrino Essenza; a gentle mix of their signature bubbles with the refreshing essence of delicious fruit flavours. S. Pellegrino Essenza comes in a mouthwatering range of invigorating essences that are guaranteed to become an instant favourite. Choose from lemon and lemon zest, tangerine and wild
strawberry, dark morello cherry and pomegranate flavours. The natural mineral water brand is produced in S. Pellegrino Terme in the Province of Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy, and their Mediterranean mentality can be seen in their products. As anyone who’s ever visited will know, Italians don’t take life for granted. From shutting up shop for a few hours so they can take a proper lunch break to spending time with loved ones over a family meal, Italian culture is steeped in traditions that know the benefit of slowing things down and celebrating every single aspect of life. While that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to indulge in lasagna or spaghetti bolognese for dinner every evening (tempting though it may be), it does remind us to stop and smell the
roses. S. Pellegrino Essenza is a sweet and refreshing mental note to make every meal a celebration. This everyday indulgence may seem more decadent than sipping on your average still or sparkling water – but in actual fact, S. Pellegrino Essenza contains zero-calories and absolutely no artificial flavours. Plus, it’s prepared with only the best natural ingredients, so you can feel good about introducing it into your daily routine. Being health-conscious is a part of our lives, but we're always on the lookout for hacks to amp up our daily options and make our beverage choices more sophisticated. And if that means adding some fizz to our meals every single day, that's fine by us. ● Available in stores for a limited time, launching nationally February 2019.
CANADA’S CHICKEN FARMERS Proud thoicken C e h t e s i a t s R u r T s Canadian
CANADIAN CHICKEN Over 90% of Canada’s chicken farms are family owned and operated.
The use of hormones and steriods in chicken production has been illegal since the 1960s.
CANADA’S CHICKEN FARMERS
Proud to Raise the Chicken Canadians Trust
Chickens raised for meat are all free to roam, with unlimited access to food and water. There is a mandatory, audited Animal Care Program that is administered across all Canadian chicken farms. In Canada, barns are cleaned out after every single flock and fresh bedding is laid out prior to the arrival of new chicks.
LET'S RAISE A TOAST(ER)
We're giving away a 1950s style SMEG toaster to turn one reader's first meal of the day into their favourite.
HEY SAY THAT breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most mornings, it's tricky to squeeze in anything other than a banana on the go or a deskside yogurt. Other days, we put off eating until lunchtime, meaning we're not firing on all cylinders until at least midday. What if we were just missing the right tools for the job? For over 65 years, SMEG has been making elegant kitchen appliances and taking daily routines from bore to beautiful. Never are their sleek designs more apparent than in their vintage-inspired range of iconic breakfast-ready devices. Take for instance, the SMEG toaster. The stylish morning assistant is available in a 2 and 4 slice version,
and allows you to choose between six browning levels. It also gives you the option to toast one side only or to defrost or reheat your slice (because let's face it, we've all forgotten about our toast). Additional racks, which let you remove toasted sandwiches, take your toast game to the next level. Choose from a variety of retro colours including Red, Pink, Chrome, Black, Cream or Blue – the shade we'll be giving away to one lucky reader. We're giving away a 2-slice toaster so you can put some pep in your step each morning. Whether you're making breakfast great again or sneaking a predinner snack, SMEG's perfect blend of ergonomics and design deserves pride of place on your kitchen counter. It's the best thing since sliced bread. ●
WIN A SMEG TOASTER
We're giving away a SMEG toaster worth $229 to one lucky reader. The winner will receive a pastel blue 2-slice toaster – the perfect way to uprade your morning routine from oh-no to retro. The sleek Italian machinery looks fab on your kitchen counter and is guranteed to make your morning dash a pastel dream. For a full list of terms and conditions and to enter the contest, visit: foodism.to/competition
SPEAKEASY COME, SPEAKEASY GO Head back in time with a culinary tour of the York Durham Headwaters region.
Photography: Temperance Temptation Tour
ISTEN UP MOLLS and dolls. We know where you can find a bees knees juice joint to get blotto and do the Charleston with a dapper flapper. Don’t 'know your onions?' Allow us to explain. Temperance and Temptation Experience tours launched this summer, offering you the chance to brush up on your prohibition slang, while learning about the scandalous bootlegging backstory of the York Durham Headwaters (YDH) region and sipping on giggle water (booze to you and me). When you think of the prohibitionera, Al Capone tends to get all the column inches – but the American gangster isn’t the only one with a sordid past. Meanwhile, in Canada, the YDH was a breeding ground for subterranean smuggling by the 1860s, with moonshiners using the woods and wilderness as a hiding place for all that banned booze. Its location was close enough to Toronto to supply the speakeasies yet far enough to evade police suspicion. Temperance and Temptation's immersive weekend getaways teach you the history from the mid 1800s to the 1920s. The all-inclusive two day tours include food and accommodation, as well as award-winning wines, specialty brews and top-shelf cocktails. Each intimate tour (24 person max) features a gaggle of characters who bring stories of the prohibition to life as you move around your chosen region. Plus, there's plenty of live entertainment – from dramatic reenactments of clashes between teetotallers and rebels to live music from a travelling band. The Experience Tours run until early November, but if you can’t make it, there are self-guided tours that allow you to explore the region’s past. Temperance and Temptation provide
a free downloadable audio guide and map of each story (York, Durham and Headwaters). Each is filled with music, history and fun facts for you to enjoy as you visit establishments like the Adamo Estate Winery, Brock Street Brewing Company and Grand Spirits Distillery. The audio guide also offers listeners secret pass codes and phrases to unlock exclusive deals along the way.
Located just a short drive north of Toronto, York Durham Headwaters is a great place to take your next road trip adventure. It’s close enough to feel like you’re just dipping your toes into a weekend getaway, but vibrant enough that you'll forget all about city life – in other words, it's the cat's pajamas. ● Visit temperanceandtemptation.ca for more information about tours and tickets.
MISUTA CHOW’S Misuta Chow’s is emblematic of the wave of hip, new restaurants and bars that are changing Buffalo’s once ho-hum food and drink scene. Decked out with neon lighting and Japanese lanterns, the two-level space has a quirky, retro-futuristic aesthetic. The main floor draws inspiration from Tokyo’s yokocho, or alleyways, for its decor. At the bar, there’s Japanese whisky, local craft brews and sakéinfused drinks, while the food menu features dishes like deep-fried onigiri rice balls and octopus hot dogs. The vibe takes a 1980s turn as you move up to the second floor, where patrons line up to play classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.
Buffalo is way more than Bills games and chicken wings. Jessica Huras pays the Nickel City a visit.
UFFALO IS COMING into its own and the spirit of innovation in the air is as unmistakable as the smell of roasting Cheerios, which often sweetly scents the neighbourhood around the city’s General Mills plant. Like many American cities hugging the Great Lakes, Buffalo thrived for decades as an industrial powerhouse, before experiencing a dramatic economic decline toward the end of the last century. Today, Buffalo is finding renewed pride in its heritage, as well as excitement for its burgeoning future. Places like Chicago or New York City are probably the first to spring to mind when you think of important American architectural cities. So, the landmark buildings dotted throughout Buffalo’s downtown are one of the many examples of how the city surprises and impresses first-time visitors. The Buffalo cityscape unfolds like a who’s-who
of significant turn-of-the-20th-century American architects, home to buildings designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson. Buffalo is putting fresh energy into restoring these structural masterpieces or, in other cases, giving them new life as hotels, restaurants and art centres. Architecture is only the beginning of the city’s cultural prowess. Who knew that a collection containing works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh is on display less than a two-hour drive from Toronto? You’ll see pieces by these artists and other 20th-century greats at Buffalo’s venerable Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Buffalo is also pouring its collective creative energy into its dining scene, with trail-blazing restaurants proving that the city’s culinary talents go well beyond the namesake wing. Although you’ll also be spoiled for choice when it comes to this bar-food staple. f For more great travel content, check out our sister magazine, escapism Toronto. escapism.to
GETTING THERE Driving time from Toronto to Buffalo is around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Greyhound and Megabus both offer multiple services daily, with prices starting at less than $40 round-trip. greyhound.ca; ca.megabus.com
GENE MCCARTHY’S You’d be remiss to visit the home of the Buffalo wing without having at least one platter of this deepfried favourite. Set amid Buffalo’s landmark grain silos, it’s been beloved by blue-collar workers since the 1960s. In Buffalo, chicken wings must be served with blue cheese dip (never ask for ranch!). Gene McCarthy’s embraces the city’s passion for the strongly-flavoured cheese by dosing its signature wings in a sauce that’s a mix of hot and BBQ sauces along with blue cheese – they’re served with yet more blue cheese crumbled on top.
Photography: Buffalo by Jacek Sopotnicki; Gene McCarthy’s by Jessica Huras
THE DAPPER GOOSE The Dapper Goose exudes a confident coolness with its rustic decor and locally-driven menu. The management team are Buffalo natives, but all gained experience in restaurants across the country before moving home to open Dapper Goose together. Touches like a black walnut bar, a leafy patio space and converted garage seating area give the restaurant a relaxed, urban ambiance that lends itself equally well to lazy Sunday brunches and evening date nights. The brief, seasonal menu changes regularly and the cocktail programme is one of the city’s best.
WEST SIDE BAZAAR The West Side Bazaar is a smallbusiness incubator that helps immigrants and refugees get their start. The result is a multicultural indoor marketplace, with one side dedicated to retail booths selling jewellery, clothing, and art; and the other with a nine-vendor food court. Their food covers cuisines from Ethiopia to Laos and Mexico to Pakistan. The setup is no-frills, but portions are generous and affordable – most under $10 – and diners can feel good knowing they’re helping support aspiring entrepreneurs. Since the bazaar launched in 2011, several vendors have opened restaurants.
BOTTLE SERVICE We track down the best artisan-roasted coffee beans, find the right stuff to spike it with and open a few cozy reds. PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAILEE MANDEL ART DIRECTION BY APRIL TRAN
1 VARANINI I.D. BAR: Creamy and dense, with a walnut and almond profile and an intense aftertaste, this coffee bean is Rialto’s house blend. Handily, the espresso bar will portion their big bags into smaller servings so you don’t need to do a coffee run to enjoy your cup of joe. $24.50, @rialtoespressobar 2 DE MELLO PALHETA SAO JAO DA MATA: Sourced from small farms in Minas Gerais, Brazil, these red catuai beans have notes of milk chocolate, vanilla and apple, perfect for those who like their coffee on the sweeter side. $12, hellodemello.net
3 ONIBUS COFFEE HONDURAS: Prune, chocolate and red apple flavours predominate in this blend from Tokyobased roastery Onibus. The beans are from the Santa Bárbara region of Honduras. $20, neocoffeebar.com 4 DETOUR COFFEE ROASTERS GUJI URAGA ETHIOPIA: These stand-out beans come from the Guji Zone in Ethiopia, which is known for its complex, balanced coffee. This bag makes a brew with floral and fruity aromas that include rose, sweet berries and nectarine. $18, detourcoffee.com
5 PILOT HERITAGE: Pilot’s flagship espresso blend varies slightly in taste depending on the season, but dark fruit, Swiss chocolate and nutty notes are trademarks. It can be enjoyed with or without milk. $18.50, pilotcoffeeroasters.com 6 HAILED COFFEE ARABIC COFFEE BLEND: Hailed Coffee brings a Middle Eastern influence to its high-grade roasts. Like these Arabic coffee beans, blended with ground cardamom (“hail” actually means “cardamom” in Arabic) and saffron for the perfect blend of coffee and spice. $19.95, hailed.ca
1 AMARULA CREAM AND MARULA FRUIT: South Africa is not exactly known for its cream liqueurs. But after you try this velvety beverage, made from marula fruit and matured in French oak for two years, you’ll wonder why. Best of all, they’ve set up the Amarula Trust to help protect the African elephant from extinction. $28.95, amarula.com
2 AVERNA AMARO: This Sicilian after-dinner digestif has all the hallmarks of a fall favourite tipple. It’s deep brown in colour and has an aroma of herbs, dried fruit, spices, licorice and citrus zest – a.k.a. autumn in a glass. $25.05, amaroaverna.com 3 BAILEYS ORIGINAL: This quintessential creme liqueur is arguably the Emerald Isle’s best
alcoholic export (sorry, Guinness). A smooth sipping beverage made with whiskey, cream and sugar, Baileys is delicious on ice or in addition to your java for an Irish coffee. $30.95, baileys.com 4 MCGUINNESS AMARETTO DELL’AMOROSA: With hints of almond and marzipan, this amber-
coloured liqueur is perfect for those with a sweettooth. Amaretto, made from apricot kernels, not almonds, is Italian for “a little bitter” – so pour over ice cream or enjoy in your cocktail of choice. $21.95, mcguinness mixables.com
1 THE GOOD WINE PINOT NOIR 2016: Near the Beamsville Bench, Good Earth Winery has gained international recognition for their quality wines. Like this medium-bodied pinot noir with a smooth texture and raspberry flavours. $28.95, goodearthfood andwine.com
2 CREEKSIDE 2016 SYRAH: Get cozy with this ruby red syrah from Creekside near Jordan in Niagara. The black raspberry, damson plum and spice notes are just crying out to be savoured from under a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace. $15.95, creekside wine.com
3 THE FOREIGN AFFAIR PINOT NOIR 2013: A bold red thatâ€™s bursting with spicy red fruit and nutmeg. This pinot gets its distinct flavour from the appassimento method, which partly dries the grapes before fermentation. $34.95, foreignaffair winery.com
4 SANTA CAROLINA RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON: A great budget option, this deep purple cab sauv has earned a place on our regular LCBO shopping list. Full-bodied and well-balanced with aromas of vanilla and mint, itâ€™s the perfect partner to all those stews. $13.70, lcbo.com
We're giving eight readers the chance to win dinner with winemaker Daniel Castano.
L Photography: Casey Tanaka
ET'S FACE IT, traditions matter. Whether we're celebrating Thanksgiving or visiting our favourite restaurant for the thousandth time, there's a reason why we repeat the same patterns over and over again. Just ask the Castano family, who have been growing grapes in sunny south eastern Spain since 1918. Ramón Castaño Santa's history of winemaking dates back several generations, from building a winery in 1950, all the way through to present day when he incorporated his three sons into the family business – always maintaining their roots and reputation.
On November 26, his son Daniel Castano will be hosting a multi-course tasting of their signature wines from the Yecla appelation, home to Bodegas Castano. The roster will feature their flagship Hecula Red Blend – made from Monastrell grapes – as well as Castano Tinto and Castano Colleccion, all of which will be arriving at the LCBO over the next few months. We're giving eight readers and their plus ones the chance to sip on Castano wines and enjoy a selection of tasty tapas in the perfect Spanish setting at Madrina. ● Find Bodega Castano wines on lcbo.com and pairings on azureau.com.
WIN A FAMILY DINNER WITH DANIEL CASTANO
We're giving away eight pairs of tickets to a multi-course tasting at Madrina in the Distillery District on Monday, November 26. Thirdgeneration winemaker, Daniel Castano, will be pairing five signature wines with Spanish tapas. For a full list of terms and conditions and to enter the contest, visit: foodism.to/competition Hurry up as the contest closes on November 11, 2018.
SIP SIP HOORAY
We celebrated patio season with a three-course menu paired with Stoneleigh wines at an exclusive party at chef Mark McEwanâ€™s downtown restaurant.
Photography: Britney Townsend
On August 8, we hosted a group of lucky Foodism readers for a patio party with chef Mark McEwan at his gorgeous downtown Bymark restaurant. We toasted with glasses of Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc and nibbled canapes like harissa steak tartare. For our first course, pan seared scallops with corn and chanterelle risotto and passion fruit beurre blanc complemented the tropical fruit flavours of the easy drinking white wine. The rich Stoneleigh Pinot Noir paired beautifully with a course of five spiced duck breast and plum sauce.
From dishes devoured to swoon-worthy sips, here’s what we’re loving right now.
Katie Bridges, Staff Writer
Jessica Huras, Contributing Editor
Taylor Newlands, Editorial Assistant
TIFF was back in Toronto for its 43rd year and the parties did not disappoint. Mongrel Media took over Campbell House for the fourth festival in a row and lit up the downtown heritage museum. I sipped a Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla cocktail and nibbled Sicilian arancini from St. Lawrence Market. The night was not complete without a spin in Cineplex’s 360 photo booth.
Chef Daniel Boulud’s d|bar held a new-menu tasting in early September. While I enjoyed the new items – I may have knocked over a few other guests to snag the ham-and-cheese croquetas – I was most excited about revisiting the charcuterie programme. I wasn’t disappointed: A table was piled high with cured meat, terrines, pâtés, mousses and artisanal cheese.
During a stay at Hotel X Toronto, I hung out at the three-level rooftop lounge, Falcon Skybar. I asked for “something sweet and delicious” and received the Jack Brûlée. Past a sugary crust floating atop an eggwhite foam, the blowtorched tipple was the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Cozying up on a velvety chair, I sipped on my cocktail while taking in the stunning views of Toronto.
F L AVOUR OF THE WE E K Petty Cash; 487 Adelaide St W. When you first enter Petty Cash, prepare for feelings of déjà vu and “Have I been here before?” The short answer is yes, probably. Gone is the black leather and dim lighting of its Spirit House alter ego. Nate Middleton (Home of the Brave) and Steve Gonzalez (Baro) have thrown up the blinds and replaced the cigarsand-scotch-in-the-library vibes with a pool table, a DJ booth and plenty of wall art that brings us
back to its namesake cash. We devoured the Not-So-Petty Burger, made with house-ground beef, adorned with special sauce and a pickle, and a bun stamped with their mascot, “Piggy Smalls”. The carne asada nachos come with a tableside cheese pour (because, why the hell not?) The combination of flank steak, cherry tomatoes and chimichurri has a sweetness that helps make the dish more manageable. Word of warning though: Bring your whole crew as the serving is pretty epic. Although, Middleton admits he has seen one “very hungry individual” finish the plate solo. pettycashtoronto.com
THE GRASS FED IS ALWAYS GREENER Thornloe Cheese is Canada's first verified grass fed cheese and butter producer.
T’S EASY TO get overwhelmed when reading food labels. From scanning the ingredient list for unpronounceable elements to decoding nutritional claims on the packaging, it can be a minefield. In order to make smart food choices, we just want to know what’s in our food and where it comes from, so we love when things are straightforward. Like Canadian products, locally sourced from premium ingredients. What could be simpler than that? Thornloe Cheese may have been around for over 75 years, but last summer they became the first in Canada to produce Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) verified Grass Fed cheeses. Their cheese, as well as a brand new line of
butter, is made from grass fed milk in the Temiskaming Valley, located 600 km north of Toronto, beyond Muskoka. Thornloe Cheese works with local farmers who pasture cows when weather permits and feed them a grass-based diet during the winter months. Why? When cheese is produced from full fat milk from grass-fed cows, micronutrients that are beneficial to our health – like omega 3, Vitamin A and E, and antioxidants – make it into our diets. And it’s not just the grass that makes their cheese taste better – the cows are happier because they're well looked after. Any of their products with the grass fed symbol ensures that the milk they source has been monitored for
standards in animal care and pasturing by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. This reputation for quality cheese hasn't gone unnoticed; Thornloe Cheese won the 2018 Innovation Award for community and industry leadership. Thornloe boasts a huge range of delicious cheeses – choose from the award-winning mild and creamy Devil’s Rock; the sharp and salty Casey Blue; or their earthy, nutty Harley Blue Goat Cheese, a very rare find in Canada. However you enjoy Thornloe Cheese, it's good to know you're buying real dairy, locally produced – 100% milk, 100% of the time, made in Ontario. ● To find out where you can buy Thornloe Cheese, head to thornloecheese.ca.
Stay in the know with our roundup of food-and-drink news.
A JOINT VENTURE With Canada about to become the second country to legalize cannabis, marijuana-infused edibles are popping up like weeds. Molson hopes to add beer to the list by creating the world’s first non-alcoholic cannabis beer in a partnership with HEXO Corp, a producer in Quebec. The Canadian beer giant will control 57.5 per cent of the joint venture.
Photography: Molson by Biffspandex; Ramen by Perati Komson; Eddie by Kathy Hutchinson
If you’re looking for a way to give back to a food initiative,Taste Matters is a must-attend. The event supports Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, an award-winning organization that works tirelessly to help young people out of homelessness. Brad Long, from Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover, will host the affair, featuring silent auctions and food from local vendors like Petty Cash, Khao San Road and Glory Hole Doughnuts. Taste Matters takes place at the Atrium in the Queen-Richmond Centre West on October 16 and tickets are going for $125 each.
NOODLE NOD A ramen spot on the Danforth has gained international recognition and will soon be represented in a Japanese museum dedicated to the noodle soup. Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum largely showcases ramen from different regions of Japan – but Ryus Noodle Bar has been selected to take one of only two coveted spots reserved for international offerings. The food hall features a rotating selection of the world’s best ramen joints, and Ryus will be joining the elite on October 17. The museum, in Yokohama, was founded in 1994 as the world’s first food-themed amusement park.
EDDIE’S ACCLAIM When Eddie Huang returned to the scene of his spicy O.D. on YouTube show Hot Ones, we were keen to see if he held his nerve against the chicken wings that scuppered him two years ago. What we weren’t expecting was for the Viceland host to sing the praises of Toronto’s food scene. Asked to name America’s best food city, Huang replied “I’m going to give you a curveball. I’m going to say the best food city in North America is probably Toronto.” The chef, who visited the 6ix on Huang’s World, credited it with having the best of L.A.’s food scene plus great Caribbean food.
Take the guesswork out of wine with these services that pick the best bottles for you.
ON CLOUD WINE
If thereâ€™s one acknowledged trend in new Toronto bars, itâ€™s that patrons want to play (games) with their pints. We pick the best game bars, wine delivery services and find the top dessert creators in the city.
1 CB Wine Program
An offshoot of the acclaimed Charlie’s Burgers pop-up dining series, the Charlie’s Burgers Wine Program delivers between two to six bottles of exceptional wine to members each month. The CB wine team more than does their due diligence, travelling to wineproducing regions around the world and tasting over 600 bottles a year to select the very best for their programme. The pièce de résistance, however, is that each delivery includes suggested food pairings from the menus of top restaurants across Canada. The recommended restaurants allow members to bring in their CB bottles to accompany their meal, without being charged a corkage fee. From $117 per month. cbwineprogram.com
BEST OF THE REST 2 Hemisphere Wine Guild
This wine subscription service caters to the serious connoisseurs with its quarterly wine shipments. Bottles are sourced from around the world by wine expert Marcus Ansems, a second-generation winemaker and one of only a handful of certified Masters of Wine in Canada. Membership levels are divided into four categories, with top-level members receiving the most rare and hard-to-obtain wines. (Hopefully, it goes without saying that none of the programme’s featured wines are available in stores.) Entry-level members receive four 12-bottle cases per year, while upper membership levels are geared more toward restaurateurs and enthusiasts with their own wine cellars to keep stocked. From $110 per month. hemisphereswineclub.ca
3 Kwäf Club Photography: Hemisphere by Kailee Mandel, WineCollective
Kwäf keeps things local, with their team sourcing wines from Ontario only. Kwäf chooses bottles not available in stores and works directly with wineries to make them more affordable for customers. You can buy single bottles on their site, or their ClubK programme sees their sommelier team choosing six wines to ship to members every three months. Members can choose Mixed Club to receive boxes with both red and white wines, along with the occasional rosé or bubbly; or the Red Club to receive only red wines in their shipments. There’s also the option of ordering one-off subscription boxes if you don’t want to commit to a full membership. From $125 per box. kwaf.ca
4 My Wine Canada
Like Kwäf, My Wine Canada is designed with lovers of local wines in mind, offering subscription boxes of Canadian wines sourced from across the country. The company’s panel of wine experts brings together a mix of expert sommeliers and seasoned drinks writers. Unlike most other programmes that ship out bottles from a variety of wineries, My Wine Canada highlights one Canadian winery each month, sending out a selection of their best bottles not available in liquor stores. The Wine Enthusiast membership level gets you two bottles a month, while the Wine Expert level bumps it up to three. From $69 per month. mywinecanada.com
The WineCollective team scouts wineries across the globe and tastes hundreds of wines every month to select the bottles shipped in their subscription boxes. Billing itself as the largest monthly wine club in Canada, this Calgary-based organization offers a range of box options to suit different budgets (and various rates of wine consumption). Shipments come with two, four and six bottles and many include the option to receive just reds, just whites or a mix of the two. Every wine comes with a tasting card that provides background info on the producer and grape variety, along with tips for enjoying. Members also get access to WineCollective’s online store. From $57 per month. winecollective.ca
BEST OF THE REST
4 Millie Patisserie
362 King St. E.
12 Oxley St. #101
Stephanie Duong and Bruce Lee both worked in Michelin-starred restaurants before opening their dessert shop. They bake cannelé in the traditional Bordeaux fashion – the small pastry is crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside with flavours of vanilla and rum. They met in Paris, opened Roselle in 2015 and recently tied the knot – obviously, their motto is “dessert makes you happy”.
Now featuring Japanese-style desserts made with French techniques, Millie started as a modest crêperie in Kensington Market before expanding to include a Markham café and the downtown patisserie. Twenty paper-thin crêpes alternate with pastry cream layers to make the favourite cake. Keep an eye out for their seasonal limited editions – sakura cakes in spring and rainbow cakes for Pride month.
3 Danish Pastry House
65 Front St. W., inside Union Station
304 Richmond St. W.
Anita Lauritsen founded the Danish Pastry House out of love for her Danish upbringing. The house-made dough has a minimum of 27 layers for maximum lightness and flakiness. They offer several variations on a swirling pastry called cinnamon snail – including custard-filled and mini. When the new location opens this fall at the Eaton Centre it will be easier to get these Danish delights.
They do contemporary Canadian food and “weird flavoured beer”, but it’s their s’mores cookie dessert that caught our attention. It arrives fresh from the oven in a petite cast iron skillet with marshmallow, vanilla bean ice cream, and a graham cracker crumble. The current dessert rotation also includes their Earl Grey ice cream sundae with a ginger crumble, and a pistachio pavlova.
We round up the Toronto bakers and pastry chefs who are making our favourite desserts. 1 Nugateau 717 Queen St. W.
Billed as the first pastry shop in Toronto to entirely focus on the éclair, Nugateau uses French techniques and no artificial flavours to create their pastries. Their dozen-or-so éclairs range from simple fruit flavours to the more complex. The Red Rocket, red velvet filled with raspberry compote and cream cheese mousse, is topped with a white chocolate depiction of a Toronto streetcar. nugateau.com
1 The Rec Room 255 Bremner Blvd.
A night of gaming doesn’t mean a reduction in food quality. Whether you’re playing pool, shuffleboard or Mario Kart in this huge space on Bremner, there’s plenty of upscale pub fare. Choose from sharing plates, wood-fired flavours and hand-held snack options at Three10 (a nod to Canada’s three territories and ten provinces); or head to The Shed for specialty poutine and pizza by the foot. therecroom.com
The last few years have brought a wave of game emporiums. These ones have the best food and drink.
BEST OF THE REST
Photography: Roselle by Michael Gozum; Danish Pastry House, Millie by Joe Ticar
4 Snakes and Lattes Eglinton
824 Dundas St. W.
45 Eglinton Ave. E.
The menu is cheekily divided into gamerinspired sections. The ‘Start Menu’ kicks things off with apps like dill pickle fries; ‘Power Ups’ provide more gaming sustenance with burgers and sandwiches, while the ‘Bonus Level’ offers sweet treats. A $5 cover gets you all-you-can-play access. Their awesome selection of local brews includes the likes of Junction and Great Lakes.
Toronto’s most popular board game cafe might not be news to you, but there’s more to Snakes and Lattes than Settlers of Catan and coffee. Food varies slightly across their three locations, but options like the Peruvian chicken and dark chocolate petite brownies feature at College, Bloor and Eglinton. Enjoy a homemade infusion like the Rose Bowl or Amaretto Sour cocktail.
5 Greater Good
100 Broadview Ave.
229 Geary Ave.
The east end just got a new sport, a cross between golf and bocce ball, at Lob. Once you’ve figured out the scoring system, saddle up your ball bag (control yourselves) and enjoy trackside snacks. Choose from apps like pretzel bites or more substantial fare like the Nashville hot chicken sandwich. With Saulter Street and Radical Road nearby, you can bank on some great local brews.
Like it’s sister bar, Get Well, Greater Good knows the formula for making a worthy bar: A huge selection of rotating craft beer, a tasty slice and (mostly) free-to-play video games. Their sequel builds on this idea by separating the games on a mezzanine level so you can play Street Fighter, Tapper and skeeball in relative peace and quiet. Sustenance is supplied by North of Brooklyn Pizzeria.
IKA: Nigiri of cuttlefish with mullet roe and hibiscus salt.
BENI-SAKE: King salmon with Japanese pickled mustard vegetable (takana mentai).
SNOW CRAB: Served with truffle sauce, lobster roe, black truffle.
SABA: Japanese mackerel with a ginger chimichurri.
O TORO: The medium-fat belly of the bluefin tuna called Chutoro is complemented with okra and Japanese mustard.
UNI: Tongues of Hokkaido Uni with a fried seaweed chip (nori) and smoked salt. MIYAZAKI WAGYU: Served with a Japanese spice blend (shichimi), black garlic and pink salt.
UNAGI: Anago on sea asparagus in a sweet soy sauce-based glaze, called kabayaki sauce.
Miku Restaurant, 10 Bay St. #105, mikutoronto.com
Photograph by ###
Toronto has upped its sushi game with options for tasting menu style omakase dinners or torched fish on rice for those who want a little heat. Mikuâ€™s nine piece premium nigiri is the best of both worlds.
MADAI: Japanese seabream with avocado salsa, sundried tomato.