T O R O N T O , O N E B I T E AT A T I M E
1.5 oz Boodles Gin 3 oz. Tonic Water 1 lemon Wedge 1 Rosemary Sprig Pour, 1.5 oz. Boodles Gin and 3 oz. Tonic Water into an ice-ďŹ lled rocks glass. Stir and garnish with Lemon Wedge and Rosemary Sprig.
PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.
SEA SALT DARK CHOCOLATE LINDT EXCELLENCE. SO THIN. SO INTENSE.
EXCELLENCE Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Experience the unexpected with the perfect pairing of Lindt’s finest aromatic dark chocolate and a touch of “fleur de sel” (sea salt). A variety of sophisticated recipes, created with passion. Discover the world of Excellence. Lindt Maître Chocolatier Suisse depuis 1845. Everyday-Excellence.com
Suresh Doss ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Jon Hawkins, Mike Gibson WRITERS
Andrea Yu, Jessica Dawdy
Design ART DIRECTOR
Matthew Hasteley LEAD DESIGNER
PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS
Ryan Faist, Kailee Mandel, Sandro Pehar, Mariah Llanes CONTRIBUTORS
Sarah Parniak, Michael Di Caro ADVERTISING
Darren Wells, Ernesto Ortega LEAD DEVELOPER
AJ Cerqueti PRINTING
Krista Faist CHAIRMAN
foodism uses paper from
When I meet people on my travels and tell them that I’m from Toronto, a common follow-up question is, “What time of the year is best to visit the city?” I respond by saying that a sure bet is to visit Toronto any time after April. As the weather warms from the clutches of winter, the city quickly leaps to life; from the first majestic cherry blossoms to the vernal bloom of seasonal produce at local farmers’ markets to the endless events and festivals – not to mention the first crowds for patio season. Spring is the unofficial kickoff for farmers’ markets in Toronto, and we’ve taken a look at our top five (p. 92). Also, we celebrate five of our favourite farmers in Ontario (p. 10). This is also a great time to talk about our responsibility toward food and farming. Andrea Yu looks at how local innovators are changing agriculture (p. 34), and Sarah Parniak digs into the growing problem of food waste (p. 48). We’re all aware of how rich Toronto’s multicultural food offerings are – we have it really good here – but did you know that we’re also growing as a chocolate powerhouse? Michael Di Caro expounds on Toronto’s chocolatiers, who are winning awards internationally (p. 40). Personally, spring has always been a reminder to travel and explore more of this beautiful country. Jessica Dawdy escapes to London, Ont. for the weekend (p. 86), and Jon Sufrin takes us on a tour through Montreal (p. 72). The cold is gone, and a fresh new season of eating is about to begin. It’s a good time to be in Toronto. f
FRONT COVER: Photography by Ian Dingle Art direction by Matthew Hasteley
GRAZE 010 THE FOODIST 014 DAYTRIPPER 017 THE RADAR 018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE 023 RECIPES 031 DAVID MCMILLAN
FEAST 034 FUTURE CROPS
040 SWEET SURRENDER 048 THE RESCUERS 054 GETTING REAL 064 COCKTAIL HOUR
EXCESS Suresh Doss
072 VIVE MONTREAL
080 BOTTLE SERVICE 086 ESCAPISM
© Foodism Toronto 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Foodism Toronto cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Foodism Toronto a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Foodism Toronto nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Foodism Toronto endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.
089 NOSTALGIST 092 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
010 THE FOODIST | 014 DAYTRIPPER | 017 THE RADAR 018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE | 023 RECIPES | 031 DAVID MCMILLAN
— PART 1 —
GRAZE “TORONTO IS NOW THE GREAT CANADIAN FOOD CITY” DAVID MCMILLAN, 31
THE FOODIST Foraging has a romantic appeal, but it brings with it both good and bad, writes Jon Sufrin
VERY SPRING, WILD edibles such as ramps, fiddleheads and morels begin to appear on menus throughout Toronto. On the surface, this seems like a good thing. Foraging folds in nicely with many of the feelgood buzzwords of today, such as “fresh,” “local” and “natural.” There is a romanticism to eating wild-picked food that is appealing. But foraging brings with it a set of moral quandaries, and it’s worth being aware of them. In the same way that “all-natural” does not automatically equate “healthy,” foraged food does not always indicate harmony with terroir and the natural world. Going into the wild to pick food is not a necessity for most Torontonians. Our local farmers do a perfectly adequate job of providing us with lush produce as the seasons permit. Those who seek out food from the wild do so as a form of novelty. In order to entertain this novelty, foragers often do what humans do best: destroy things. Even when we are careful, we can trample and heavily disturb the ecology without realizing it. We are, after all, large, oafish primates with insatiable appetites. Overharvesting, too, is a real concern. Conventional wisdom says that harvesting a third of what you find is a safe amount, but this is just a guess. Scientific studies on the effects of wild harvesting are limited. Certain edibles are more susceptible to overharvesting than others. Leaves, bulbs and roots are particularly sensitive. Overeager harvesters have made wild leeks –
otherwise known as ramps – vulnerable in Quebec. Under similar circumstances golden cress has become threatened in Ontario, and wild ginseng, the popular herbal stimulant, is endangered in Canada. Fiddleheads, popular with foragers, are baby ferns. Anyone who harvests one is preventing an organism from developing. The first time I went foraging, I came across a sizeable fern patch that had been decimated for the sake of artisanal cooking. Foraging is not all bad, though. One important upside is that it helps create a connection between us and our food. When you’ve spent hours searching for a few elusive morels, you’re more likely to appreciate them and pay attention to the way you prepare and consume them. And when you appreciate nature, you care more about it. Exercising a bit of foresight can go a long way toward foraging sustainably. Berries and mushrooms, for example, can be quite resilient toward harvesting. There are also many weeds and invasive species, such as dandelion, stinging nettle or garlic mustard, that are edible and nutritious. The important thing is that we are cognizant of both the good and bad aspects of foraging. This way we can make better decisions about our actions and what we choose to harvest and put inside our bodies. The reality is that foraging really doesn’t provide us with anything that tastes better than farmed food. So we need to ask ourselves: how important is it? f
LOCAL HEROES TOR ONTO’S TO P FAR M E RS
1 ANTHONY JOHN Soiled Reputation Anthony John and his wife Tina VandenHeuvel are best known for their organic greens and produce, which top chefs such as Jonathan Gushue and Michael Caballo seek out with regularity. John also has 23 years’ worth of cooking classes under his belt, which gives him some added perspective on chefs’ needs.
RUTH KLAHSEN Monforte Dairy
The owner and operator of Ontario’s oldest artisanal dairy is also a trailblazer for the Canadian cheese industry. Ruth Klahsen is proving that Canadians can be just as good at making cheese as the Europeans.
DAIRY is produced by cows that eat grass year-round on local, Ontario farms, resulting in smooth tasting, omega-3-rich products.
FOLLOW US @FOODISMTO
LOCAL HEROES 3
CORY VAN GRONINGEN
Van Groningen Meats Cory Van Groningen and his brothers Chad, Kevin and Kyle were born into the meat industry, and since then they have been working to ensure that Ontarians have access to highquality, traceable, antibiotic-free and hormone-free meat products. They work solely with small-herd Ontario farms with high standards of care, which is probably why they’re a top choice for restaurants and meat purveyors across the province.
DYSON FORBES Forbes Wild Foods
Local foraging legend Jonathan Forbes founded Forbes Wild Foods roughly 19 years ago. Now his son Dyson – who grew up foraging wild berries and morels – is taking the reins in sustainably harvesting and marketing food procured from Canada’s wilderness. Canadian chefs are, ahem, wild for Forbes’ products, but demand doesn’t only come from within: Noma’s René Redzepi has called them up for locally sourced spruce tips and pawpaw.
OUR FAVOURITE LOCAL MUSTARDS
Equally a favourite of chefs and home cooks, the Toronto-based Kozlick’s – established in 1948 – is the gold standard to which all mustards should be held. Totally appropriate coming from a country that is the world’s largest exporter of mustard.
Some of the best mustard around comes from Mrs. McGarrigle’s in the village of Merrickville, Ont. A good starting point is the British Beer mustard, which is emboldened by the addition of dark ale. It’s a great spread for cheeses and grilled meats.
If you prefer variety, Winnipeg-based Smak Dab offers multi-packs of its top-selling mustards. Concoctions range from chunky mustard infused with maple syrup to a creamy wine-and-herb blend. The beer-chipotle is our favourite as a meat rub. Available at McEwan.
FRED DE MARTINES Perth Pork Products
Over 30 years ago, Fred De Martines – who trained as a swine specialist in Holland – purchased a farm near Sebringville, Ont. that has become the home for Perth Pork, one of the most sought-after pork purveyors in the country. Perth specializes in rare and heritage breeds, such as Berkshire, Iron Age and Tamworth (which grow slow but are fully worth the wait). De Martines develops unique styles of feed in order to give his pigs a distinctive flavour.
sourced from small-scale farms who are striving to build sustainable working and living conditions in their communities.
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Other must-try spots
Mississauga is an underrated food town with an abundance of top-notch international eateries, and the list is growing by the day
Breakfast ING; 4040 Creditview Rd. This tiny Southeast Asian café specializes in milk teas and spicy noodle soups. Get the laksa or the Malaystyle bak kut teh (pork rib soup). @breakfast.ING
We would kick off a day eating through Mississauga with the international bakeries – and the city is home to an ever-increasing asssortment of them. They’ll provide all manner of savoury and sweet goods, be it European-style or South American-style.
◆◆ Columbus Bakery;
40 Bristol Rd. E. This long-standing Colombian bakery from Toronto recently opened a location in Mississauga, and it’s damn good. Get the empanadas as well as the pan de queso (cheese bread). columbusbakery.ca
◆◆ Lazar Bakery; 325
Central Pkwy W. Lazar is a catch-all shop that features a wide variety of excellent European pastries, but they’ve built a loyal following for their filled doughnuts and creamy Portuguese custard tarts in particular. lazarbakery.ca
The city’s large immigrant population means that Mississauga is home to some of the best Caribbean and Indian cuisine you’ll ever come across without getting into a plane. The best thing about these restaurants is their no-holds-barred approach to spice.
◆◆ Leela’s Roti; 900
Rathburn Rd. W., #1 & 2 Our favourite Trinidadian roti comes from a family-run operation tucked away in a plaza. Staunch roti lovers come here to get their fix for curry goat and chicken. leelasroti.com
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Wilcox Gastropub; 30 Eglinton Ave. W. Who’s got the best burger in Mississauga? We think it’s Wilcox, a modern gastropub serving up seasonal Canadian fare. thewilcox.ca
◆◆ Guru Lukshmi;
7070 St. Barbara Blvd., #44 & 45 It’s official: Mississauga does dosa better than Toronto. Guru Lukshmi is our tried-and-tested favourite. Be sure to try the mysore masala dosa. It’s all vegetarian, too. gurulukshmi.com
Baklawa King; 488 Eglinton Ave. W. End on a sweet note at this excellent Lebanese bakery, where over 50 different styles of phyllo pastry are served platter-style. baklawaking.com
L AVA R O C K MEETS
PLEASE DRINK REYKA RESPONSIBLY. TAKK! (THAT’S ‘THANK YOU’ IN ICELANDIC.) Represented by PMA Canada Ltd. | pmacanada.com
15-18 JUNE GARRISON COMMON FORT YORK
For Friends Who Feast The McEwan Group | Richmond Station | Bar Isabel | Piano Piano Antler | Little Sister | The Drake | Bar Buca | Barque | Miku | Kanpai CafÃ© Boulud | Nota Bene | Momofuku Noodle Bar | Pray Tell | and more Get tickets at tasteoftoronto.com #TasteOfToronto
C HE Z N O U S W INE BA R
Dining DRINKING GRAZING DINING TRENDING
THE RADAR We take you through the hottest recent bar and restaurant openings from around the city Trending Grey Gardens photography by Jenna Marie Wakani, Bang Sue photography by Brian Wong
G REY GARD ENS
The latest venture from the Black Hoof’s Jen Agg is a dreamy Kensington Market restaurant with a Michelin-pedigreed chef (Mitchell Bates, formerly of Momofuku Shoto and NYC’s Momofuku Ko). Expect a seasonally driven menu, esoteric wines and an impressive list of ciders from near and far by the glass. greygardens.ca
F IG U R E S
This supper club-style restaurant is inspired by “the figures that shaped us,” which means superheroes, judging by the vintage comic book theme. Figures has the feel of a whimsical toy store, and befitting its Yorkville surroundings, the eatery transitions into a late-night boozing haunt after the sun goes down. figuresto.com
UNION C HIC K E N
Prolific restaurateur Yannick Bigourdan (current owner of the Carbon Bar and former owner of Splendido and Nota Bene) and his team have opened the much-anticipated Union Chicken at Sherway Gardens. Chef Michael Angeloni (Grand Electric, L’Unità) serves up rotisserie chicken – by the quarter, half or whole – and buttermilk fried chicken using only local, free-range and organic poultry. Another location of Union Chicken is slated to open at Union Station in the near future. unionchicken.com
BANG SU E
This new Riverside watering hole puts local libations in the spotlight with its Ontario-only list of wine (and a few beers, too). Over 20 wines are available by the glass, including pours from standout wineries such as Aure and Creekside. cheznouswinebar.ca
PIN KY’S CA P H E OPEN NOW
Leemo Han (of Oddseoul and Hanmoto fame) has quietly opened a new snack bar in Little Italy on Clinton Street. At Pinky’s Ca Phe, Han switches gears from his usual rock ’n’ roll Korean leanings and gets into Saigonstyle street snacks. The space follows a Vietnam-circa-1970s design aesthetic, and the food doesn’t hold back on the bright, bold flavours of Southeast Asia. @pinkys_caphe
Y IN J I C HAN G F EN G
After a brief hiatus Khao San Road has reopened on Charlotte Street, around the corner from its original location. Now it has a second-floor snack bar added to the mix: Bang Sue. The cocktail list puts Thai twists on classics, while the food menu features Thai-inspired bar fare such as marinated pork cheek, chicken satay and an addictive coconut custard dessert. @bangsuebar
The popular chain from China has made its GTA debut. This bustling café features classic Cantonese breakfast and lunch fare, including congee, fried crullers and silky-soft rice noodle rolls.
WEAPONS OF CHOICE Weâ€™ve got your spring cooking needs covered. Plus, the most versatile kitchen tool ever PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN FAIST
MASTE R OF AL L T RADE S THERMOMIX TM5, $1,800 This versatile gadget heats, mixes, blends, chops and has a built-in scale. It’s no wonder chefs such as René Redzepi and Heston Blumenthal love it. canada-east.thermomix.com
A C UT A B OVE 1. IVAMIR LIVE-EDGE MAGNETIC KNIFE RACK, PRICE VARIES Holster your prized knife collection with a one-of-a-kind magnetic rack that doubles as a gorgeous art piece for your kitchen wall. goodegg.ca
2. IVAMIR SOLID WOOD MAGNETIC KNIFE RACK, $66 AND UP For something more low-key but
2 4 3
equally as functional, this sleek wooden knife rack (embedded with rare earth magnets) is just the ticket. goodegg.ca
3. OTTER CREEK CHARCUTERIE BOARD, PRICE VARIES There’s no better way to wow dinner guests than with a unique, burstingwith-character slab of wood to showcase a spread of meat, cheese and fruit. ottercreekwoodworks.myshopify.com
4. ZWILLING PRO BLONDE KNIVES, $110-$210 This classy collection sees Zwilling’s Pro series updated with holm oak handles for an extra touch of elegance. zwilling.ca
5. MICROPLANE CORE & PEEL, ULTIMATE BAR TOOL AND GOURMET SLICER, $18-$30 Peel, twist, zest, grate, score and slice with the best tools in the biz. microplane.com
BOWLE D OVE R 1 & 2. EDDINGTON BANNETON BOWLS, $25 For the at-home bread chef, these natural rattan proofing bowls will both shape your loaf and wick away moisture for a crispy crust. goodegg.ca
BUT TE RE D UP 3. BAUER POTTERY COMPANY BUTTER DISH, $80 If you’re going to keep your butter outside of the fridge, might as well do it in the cutest vessel imaginable. bauerpottery.com
B UZ Z WORT HY PIC KS 4. BEE’S WRAP 3-PACK, $25 It’s time to ditch wasteful plastic wrap when storing leftovers. Bee’s Wrap, made from organic cotton and beeswax, moulds to your food and can be used again and again. beeswrap.com
5. NUDE BEE HONEY CO. GOLDENROD, $10 Raw, natural, unpasteurized honey from a Toronto-based company. This variety, made from goldenrod flowers, pairs well with tea or cheese (or just have it on its own). nudebeehoney.ca
WINTER IS LEAVING
We’ve sourced recipes from two spring-appropriate cookbooks to help you kick off a new season of cooking on the right foot
N SEARCHING FOR recipes for this spring issue, we had a seasonally appropriate theme of rejuvenation top-of-mind. But we also wanted to pay homage to Canadian farmers who work tirelessly to keep our fridges stocked with truly amazing products. So we’ve opted to feature two cookbooks. The first is a tome dedicated to juicing and plant-based eating: The Greenhouse Cookbook from Toronto’s Greenhouse Juice Co. ($28, chapters.indigo.ca). Authors Emma Knight, Hana James, Deeva Green and Lee Reitelman have put together 100 easy-to-make recipes, including a kale salad that’s good enough to eat on its own and a
Moroccan-inspired sweet potato hash. The second book was born out of a crossCanada road trip undertaken by authors Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. Feast: An Edible Road Trip ($35, edibleroadtrip.com) is an homage to Canada’s multi-faceted cuisine, featuring recipes from chefs, farmers, fishers and lots in between. Feast’s burger recipe gives some love to rancher Thom van Eeghen, who raises beautiful elk in Kanata, Ont. And there is no better way to do justice to an amazing sorbet recipe than with a supply of Ontario apples. Winter’s over. We made it. Time to celebrate with good eating and drinking. f
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F O O DISM RE CIPE S, IN ASSOC IAT ION W IT H CAM PO VIE J O Photography Photograph Photograph by by ### ###
Campo Viejo is one of the most famous of all Rioja wines and has been synonymous with innovation and a symbol of the expressiveness, colour and vibrancy that the Spanish region is renowned for. Campo Viejo has a deep love and respect of the land and its winemaking
heritage. Campo Viejo’s dedication to Rioja winemaking, combined with the most advanced winemaking techniques, has allowed it to create modern twists on traditional methods to deliver progressive styles of Rioja that are sure to satisfy today’s discerning modern palate.
KALE SALAD SOFTEN THIS NOTORIOUSLY BRAWNY LEAF BY THOROUGHLY MASSAGING SOME VINAIGRETTE INTO IT
ING R E DIE NTS Vinaigrette ◆◆
cup virgin olive oil
◆◆ ¼ cup freshly squeezed
lemon juice ◆◆ 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (pale
yellow, not grainy) ◆◆ 1 clove garlic, minced ◆◆ Plenty of ground pepper
Salad ◆◆ 1 bunch green or red kale
(about 4 cups) ◆◆ 3 small or 2 medium beets ◆◆ 2 tbsp virgin olive oil ◆◆ ½ tsp sea salt ◆◆ ¼ cup pine nuts ◆◆ 2 tbsp finely torn or chopped
◆◆ ½ cup black olives, pitted and
sliced in half
Campo Viejo Tempranillo
◆◆ ½ ripe avocado
Velvety smooth with flavours of redcurrants, vanilla and chocolate. Serve slightly chilled (at 12–14 C). LCBO #342006
HIS SALAD FINDS sweetness from roasted beets, saltiness from black olives (we use wrinkly Moroccans), richness from toasted pine nuts and avocado, freshness from parsley and excitement from raw garlic – meaning that it has enough going for it to stand up as a meal.
1 Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and set aside. 2 To make the vinaigrette, whisk
together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, minced garlic and pepper. 3 To make the salad, strip the kale leaves from their stems by holding them upside down and pulling the leaves downward. Tear them into bitesized pieces. Place kale in a large salad bowl and set aside. 4 Slice off the ends of your beets. 5 Peel the beets and chop them into somewhat uniform ½-inch pieces. Toss the beet pieces in the olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for
20 to 22 minutes, or until tender with a bit of crispiness (but be careful not to dry them out). Remove them from the oven and let them cool. 6 In a small skillet on the stove, toast the pine nuts for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from skillet and let cool. 7 Pour half of the vinaigrette over the kale, massaging it into the leaves with your hands. Add the chopped parsley and the olives to the kale. When you’re ready to serve, scatter the beets and pine nuts onto the salad and top with slices of avocado. f
SWEET POTATO HASH
FOR SOME EXTRA PROTEIN, SERVE WITH GRILLED TOFU OR A POACHED EGG
Campo Viejo Rosé A crisp and dry rosé with intense raspberry flavours along with aromatic hints of plum, blackberry, roses and violets. LCBO #175620
I NG REDI EN TS ◆◆ 1 large sweet potato, peeled
Photography by Elena Mari and Nathan Legiehn
and cubed ◆◆ 2 1/2 tbsp of virgin olive oil ◆◆ Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper ◆◆ 1 clove garlic, minced ◆◆ 4 cups white or brown mushrooms, stems removed, rubbed clean and chopped into quarters ◆◆ 5 large kale leaves, veins removed and thinly sliced ◆◆ 1/2 tsp ground cumin ◆◆ 1/2 tsp ground turmeric ◆◆ Pinch of hot paprika ◆◆ Pinch of ground ginger or 1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger ◆◆ Pinch of ground cinnamon ◆◆ Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
ANA JAMES, CO-AUTHOR of The Greenhouse Cookbook, brought this for me to try one day when we were working late into the night at our production facility. I couldn’t find a spoon, nor could I wait until I got home (it smelled too good), so we sat on a bench outside and I ate it with my fingers. I can say with authority that this recipe is absolutely worth dying your fingertips orange for.
1 Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and set it aside. 2 In a bowl, toss the sweet potato with ½ tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread onto
the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly crisped. 3 While the sweet potatoes are baking, sauté the shallots in a pan over medium heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. 4 Add the garlic and continue cooking until the shallots are soft and slightly brown. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the kale and allow it to wilt slightly. 5 When the cooked sweet potatoes are done, add them to the sauté pan and mix everything together. Add the spices and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix to combine. When the kale is slightly crisped, remove from heat. Serve and enjoy! f
Lindsay Anderson & Dana VanVellerâ€™s
ELK MEAT IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO BEEF: LEAN, HIGH IN VITAMIN B AND EVER-SO-SLIGHTLY SWEET
HEN WE ARRIVED at his ranch in Kanata, Ont., Thom van Eeghen handed us a pair of helmets, loaded us into the trailer of an ATV and drove us out to his herd of elk. We first visited the cows and calves in the field, then made our way over to the woods, where an impressively antlered bull was hanging out on his own. If you donâ€™t have any elk producers nearby, you can easily substitute beef or bison.
1 Preheat the oven to 400 F. 2 For the roasted onions, add the sliced onion rings to a large bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. Spread out evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, turn the slices over, and roast again until soft and caramelized, another 10 to 15 minutes. 3 Preheat the barbeque on mediumhigh (about 450 F).
Campo Viejo Reserva
Rich and bold fruit flavours of cherry, black plum and ripe blackberry balanced with notes of clove, pepper and vanilla. LCBO #137810
4 To make the patties, mix the onion, egg, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Add the ground meat and gently mix with your hands until just combined (overmixing will make the burgers tough). Add the crumbled cheese and mix again until just combined. Divide the meat mixture into 4 to 6 even portions and shape them into patties. 5 Grill on the barbeque, flipping once, until their internal temperature reaches 160 F or they’re no longer pink inside, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the burgers on buns with the roasted onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and any other toppings you like. f
ING R E DIE NTS Elk burgers ◆◆ 1/2 medium red onion, finely
chopped ◆◆ 1 egg, beaten ◆◆
cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley ◆◆ 1 tbsp grainy or Dijon mustard ◆◆ 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce ◆◆ 3/4 tsp salt ◆◆ 1/2 tsp black pepper ◆◆ 1 1/2 lbs ground elk, bison or lean beef ◆◆ 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese ◆◆ 4 to 6 buns, toasted ◆◆ tomatoes, lettuce, mayo and any other desired toppings
Roasted onions ◆◆ 1 large red onion, sliced into
1/2 inch thick rings ◆◆ 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar ◆◆ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil ◆◆ Salt
Spring into Spain
Lindsay Anderson & Dana VanVeller’s
APPLE BUTTER SORBET ING R E DIE NTS
USE ANY LEFTOVER APPLE BUTTER AS A TOPPING FOR YOGURT OR OATMEAL, OR SPREAD IT ON SANDWICHES
◆◆ 2 1/2 cups water
◆◆ 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar ◆◆ 5 lbs apples, peeled, cored
and diced ◆◆ 1 cup white sugar ◆◆ 1 tsp ground cinnamon ◆◆ 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated ◆◆ 1/4 tsp salt ◆◆ 3 cups apple or pear cider ◆◆ 2 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed
lemon juice ◆◆ 3 tbsp honey
E FIRST MET Pascale Berthiaume while sampling her ice cream at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, and we immediately became devoted fans. This sorbet is a lovely fall treat – any variety of apple will do, but we love gala or honeycrisp. If your ice cream maker requires it, remember to put your churning bowl into the freezer at least 24 hours before making the sorbet.
1 To make the apple butter, add the water, apple cider vinegar and apples to a large pot and set to boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer
until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a food mill, or blend the mixture and press it through a fine sieve to get a consistent texture. Transfer it back to a large pot over low heat and add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir regularly until purée reduces by half (2 to 3 hours). 2 To make the sorbet, mix 5 cups of the prepared apple butter with the apple or pear cider, lemon juice and honey together in a pot. Heat on low and stir just until the honey is fully incorporated. Transfer to a container and let it chill inside the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
3 Once chilled, it’s time to churn the mixture into sorbet. You may need to churn this in a couple of batches – follow the specific instructions provided for your machine. Churn until the mixture starts to look frozen and gains about 25 percent volume; this could be anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on your machine. You should end up with about 10 cups of churned sorbet. 4 Once churned, transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and store in the freezer. To serve, let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before scooping. This is best consumed within 3 months. f
Spice of Life www.campoviejo.com
Spring is in bloom at St. Lawrence Market
LOVE LETTER TO TORONTO
The co-owner of Montreal’s legendary Joe Beef makes a case for Toronto as Canada’s greatest food city
HAVE BECOME SMITTEN with Toronto. Last year I made efforts to listen to and discover more Canadian music. I became familiar with and enjoy the folk-alternative stylings of Toronto-based bands such as Great Lake Swimmers, Alvvays and singular artists such as Kathleen Edwards, Doug Paisley, Donovan Woods and so many more. I also revisited the Hip at the time of their last concert, and then I found an old Blue Rodeo CD called Five Days in July. I hadn’t heard that CD since I lived in France, where I would wax homesick as I listened to it. The spirit in this music reminds me of a sense of community which, somehow, I often find in Ontario and its food culture. After having worked for years in Montreal, I’m getting to a certain age where I am
being pushed out of the kitchens of my own restaurants by young chefs who feel that I have the attention span of a ferret on espresso, who think I do too many things at once instead of focusing on any one task. I took their advice and started making visits to Ontario, to our friends who have been visiting us in Montreal for years. I have turned into the Joe Beef mascot. Montreal folks love to slag Toronto, which I feel is odd. Torontonians, on the other hand, are always complimentary. They always have nice things to say about our vice-laden city, our food and even our hockey team. Toronto is now the great Canadian food city. I feel we may have lost the title in Montreal, due perhaps to the great exodus of corporations moving out to the greener
Photography by Suresh Doss
pastures of Toronto. When I was a young cook, I’d save all my money and drive to Toronto to eat at Mark McEwan’s lavish North 44. I was a poor line cook at the time and saved for months to have spectacular meals there. I remember going across the street to Centro and listening to terrified bartenders tell stories about the great Marc Thuet. I followed the rise of Anthony Walsh – the hardest working Canadian chef – along with Jamie Kennedy, Keith Froggett, Michael Stadtländer, Susur Lee and Chris McDonald. Big pieces of the Canadian puzzle. I remember the rise of Ontario wines. The Niagara ascension. Discovering Prince Edward County and its iconic soils; Norman Hardie and other pioneers changing history. I’ve discovered Ontario honey, lamb, beef and amazing animal husbandry; incredibly high-quality products I can’t get enough of. Ontario’s craft beer movement has risen to prominence. The ciders are exceptional. You can’t get more landlocked, yet Toronto has somehow been the go-to place to eat crustaceans and bivalves in North America for decades. What a scene you have created together. Your camaraderie is inspiring. Here’s a list of Toronto’s current history-makers from where I stand: Honest Weight, El Rey, Bar Isabel, Bar Raval, all things Buca, Alo, Edulis, the Black Hoof, Grey Gardens, Archive, Woodlot, Brothers, Ascari Enoteca, Cumbrae’s, Sanagan’s, Dandylion, Chabrol, Oyster Boy, Rodney’s, the Gabardine, Forno Cultura, Blackbird, the Cheese Boutique, Chocolates x Brandon Olsen, the Tempered Room, Momofuku, Barberian’s, Rose and Sons, all things Anthony Walsh, Caplansky’s. f
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034 FUTURE CROPS | 040 SWEET SURRENDER | 048 THE RESCUERS 054 GETTING REAL | 064 COCKTAIL HOUR
— PART 2 —
FEAST “FOOD WASTE IS A PROBLEM, AND MOST OF US ARE COMPLICIT” THE RESCUERS, 048
BELOW: Pablo Alvarez, co-owner of Mississaugaâ€™s Aqua Greens aquaponics farm, tends to kale plants that get most of their nutrients from tilapia fish waste
Photography by ###
As demand for food increases worldwide, these local innovators are changing the way we think about farming, writes Andrea Yu PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAILEE MANDEL
T’S HARVEST DAY at Aqua Greens and urban farmers Pablo Alvarez and Craig Petten are reaping 2,000-odd arugula, kale and basil plants. But instead of industrial overalls and rubber boots, Alvarez and Petten are clad in white lab coats, latex gloves and hairnets. There is no hoe, shovel or tractor in sight at the Mississauga farm. The most important tools are a simple pair of shears and an 18-foot-high heavy duty rolling ladder used to access the highest level of produce growing in the lofty indoor facility. Aqua Greens, which sold its first crop of vegetables in 2015, is part of a new wave of urban farming concepts. They’re challenging traditional notions of food production, harnessing new agricultural technologies and discovering the most efficient ways to grow food. According to the UN, the world’s population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050, requiring our current food production rates to double. Alternative farming methods are part of the solution. Upon first glance, Aqua Greens looks like your typical hydroponic farm. Plants float in foam boards with their roots submerged in nutrient-rich pools of water. But in either corner of the 3,000-square-foot farm there are large cylindrical fish tanks, each holding a thousand live tilapia. “The fish are the engines of the system,” Alvarez explains. While they aren’t sold for consumption, their excretions provide the nutrients necessary for the plants’ growth through a system known as aquaponics, the origins of which date back to the Aztecs. In Aqua Greens’ system, the waste water (that is, the fish poop water) flows into
RIGHT: By planting vertically and using high-tech lights, a Modular Farm can grow the equivalent of an acre of produce in a 400-square-foot box
a holding tank where the excretions are aerated and broken down. The resulting water contains 12 of the 15 essential nutrients required to grow vegetables. Petten and Alvarez add small amounts of potassium, iron and calcium to the water. Then it’s pumped through four levels of greens-filled pools before it flows back into the fish tanks for the closed-loop system to repeat anew. “We use 98 per cent less water than conventional agriculture,” Alvarez explains. And while traditionally farmed leafy greens may take up to 60 days to grow, Aqua Greens crops are ready for harvest after just 21 to 28 days. “Roots in soil are searching for minerals and nutrients. Here, the food is right at its fingertips, 24 hours a day.” It didn’t take long for chefs and retailers to hop on board. Alvarez and Petten now supply greens to over 10 clients, including Pusateri’s and Cibo Wine Bar. Aqua Greens reached capacity – 17,000 plants – earlier this year and can no longer take on new customers. But for another modern farming operation in Norwood, Ont., getting consumers to catch on is a bit more complicated. Using retrofitted chicken barns, brothers Jarrod, Darren and Ryan Goldin are at the helm of North America’s first and largest cricket and insect farm for human consumption. Eating insects isn’t just a Fear Factor-type stunt. In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a white paper advocating for the consumption of insects to help resolve global food security concerns. It was this paper that inspired Jarrod to persuade his two brothers, who were running a cricket farm for reptile feed, to convert their operation. Since its 2014 launch, Entomo Farms has grown from 5,000 square feet to 60,000, and the Goldins are constantly fielding calls from companies wanting to learn more details about insect consumption. The detriments of raising livestock are well known, from methane gas emissions to the treatment of animals to the incredible amounts of water and land required. Vegetarianism is increasing in popularity, but for many of us, cravings for meat persist. In a population of omnivores, insects could satisfy our need for protein. “It’s a full, whole, functional food that offers protein, fibre, B12 and other
BY 2050, OUR CURRENT FOOD PRODUCTION RATES WILL NEED TO DOUBLE
INSECTS OFFER HIGH AMOUNTS OF PROTEIN AND FIBRE
essential minerals and vitamins in higher concentrations and better bioavailability than traditional proteins,” explains Jarrod Goldin. His virtues echo in my mind as I attempt to eat a cricket-topped salad for lunch. But after a few forkfuls, I have to pick out the bugs one by one before I can finish the plate. The taste experience of a singular cricket is pleasant: savoury with a satisfying crunch. Incorporating the insects into my regular diet, however, proved a mental challenge. Entomo Farms addresses this stumbling block head-on. They’re hopeful that habits and impressions will change (Jarrod Goldin reminds us how repulsive the idea of eating raw fish was 20 years ago), but they’re skirting around the ick-factor by crushing roasted crickets into a protein-rich powder. Entomo
Farms has over 60 wholesale customers using its cricket flour to manufacture a variety of packaged consumer goods. Among their clients are Exo – a cricket protein bar-maker that raised over US$4 million in funding last year – and Chirps, which makes cricket chips and cookies. In a recent episode of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban invested US$100,000 in the latter operation. Canada is also home to several cricket bar start-ups, including Naak and Crickstart Food Co., both based out of Montreal. Incorporating the nutritious powder into familiar foods is a realistic gateway to making insect consumption the norm. I’ve eaten both Naak and Crickstart bars and they’re tasty, rivalling any other protein bar on the market. Entomo Farms currently ships its products
around the world to customers as far as New Zealand and Australia, where another Ontario-based agricultural start-up is also making its debut. Modular Farms designs vertical indoor farms where plants grow in towers of a plastic sponge-like medium, fed with nutrient-rich water. Inspired by the shipping container farming concept, co-founders Eric Amyot and Eric Bergeron manufacture ready-made farms in a self-contained shippable module. In essence, it’s a farm in a box. Aiming for a wide global reach, Amyot and Bergeron are in talks with entrepreneurs in over a dozen countries to license and manufacture Modular Farms. A Brisbane office opened earlier this year and is currently building its first farm. The turnkey design makes it easy for anyone with $148,000 and a bit of land to start a Modular Farm. Many of Modular Farms’ customers have never worked in agriculture before, approaching their farm with an entrepreneurial spirit not unlike the launch of a new tech start-up. The growing capacity of a 400-square-foot Modular Farm is equivalent to an acre of traditionally farmed land, roughly 10 times the box’s footprint. And since it’s equipped with an HVAC system, Amyot sees Modular Farms operating as far north as Inuvik. “We can sustain a constant temperature when it’s minus 45 or plus 45 degrees outside.” Water consumption is minimal, equivalent to roughly two toilet flushes a week. But indoor farming’s biggest energy efficiency hurdle is electricity use. For the average Modular Farm, the utilities bill runs around $1,200 a month. The system’s state-of-the-art lights are power hungry for good reason. “It’s not just a white, red or blue light which you would commonly see in a greenhouse,” Amyot explains. “There are different spectrums and we’re mixing a light recipe to get the highest yields and the best flavour.” A controlled →
LEFT: Entomo Farms is the first North American facility growing insects for human consumption
hydroponic facilities,” Dr. Fraser predicts. He believes that traditionally grown produce will become pricier and harder to find in the future, and that agricultural technology will increase the divide between “artisanal,” “farm-fresh” foods and produce from alternative farms. “I think most consumers will interface with both systems and some consumers, based on finances or philosophy, will interface with the small-scale system more, but not exclusively,” says Dr. Fraser. You might grab a cheap cricket bar at the convenience store, but shell out for freerange pork chops from the farmers’ market for a special birthday dinner.
WE CAN PUT FARMS ON ROOFTOPS, PARKING LOTS OR IN STORES
Photography by ###
→ environment allows indoor farmers to very precisely tailor their crops. “If you request Thai basil with a specific aesthetic – maybe you want a very purple hue or a stronger licorice flavour – with light recipes and nutrient and temperature control, we can actually make those colours and flavours pop in the plant,” says Amyot. Modular Farms is continuing to experiment with light recipes and energy technologies along with researching which plant varieties grow best in the conditions that indoor farms can provide. But Evan Fraser, a University of Guelph professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security, reminds us that these alternative farms shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a silver bullet solution. “Will the bulk of our calories come from container farms? It’s hard to imagine growing wheat, corn, soybeans, rice,” Dr. Fraser says. “Those are going to be Prairie crops produced in breadbaskets and processed into flour. That system is not going to change.” Instead, the future of food, as Dr. Fraser sees it, is one that incorporates elements of both the traditional model – vast fields of corn and hogs raised in barns – alongside innovative operations. “People are still going to want their tomatoes in season. But a significant amount of our vegetable production, and probably our protein production, will come from these indoor, container, controlled-growth,
Farmers like Jarrod Goldin hope that alternative proteins become the norm in supermarkets, as opposed to the exception. “You would go into a store like Loblaws and find the sustainable protein aisle to get cricket powder-infused pasta and protein bars for school,” Goldin says. Eric Amyot’s vision for grocery stores of the future puts farming operations on-site. “Instead of having a head of lettuce coming from Mexico or California, we can grow food where it’s marketed,” he says. “We can put farms on rooftops, parking lots or inside their stores.” We’re entering an exciting era where agriculture and technology, two fields that were previously isolated, are intersecting in the future of food production. It’s only a matter of time before more operations like Modular Farms and Aqua Greens start popping up on city corners. “There will be ample opportunities in the market for entrepreneurs to help meet the rise in demand for food,” Dr. Fraser says. These producers represent just a few of Ontario’s up-and-coming innovators. Campbellford is home to Canada’s first indoor shrimp farm, which raises shrimp nearly waste-free out of converted hog barns. In Toronto, Living Earth Farm is Ontario’s first certified organic vertical farm. Meanwhile, the University of Guelph just got its biggest donation ever – $20 million – specifically for research in food and agriculture. With demonstrated demand and interest in these operations, it seems the future of farming is closer than we think. f
ANY TIME ANY PLACE ANY FOOD
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SWEET SURRENDER Local artisans are turning Toronto into one of the worldâ€™s most exciting chocolate cities, writes Michael Di Caro PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDRO PEHAR
Photography by ###
LEFT: Intricate Easter eggs by up-and-coming Toronto chocolatier David Chow
HE GRANITE WHEELS spin, churning a tawny wave of chocolate that glides around a stainless steel cylinder. The heady concoction looks like expertly pulled espresso, and it smells just as inviting: nutty, a little earthy and slightly smoky. A sweet whisper of caramel draws me in for a deeper smell, then, an ineffable musk of allspice has me doing a double take. That’s when Chrystal Porter, ChocoSol’s head chocolatier, interrupts my reverie with a laugh and an explanation. What I’m witnessing is the refining of Jaguar chocolate, made from a rare white cocoa bean the company sources from Chinantec farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico. While it could pass for quality milk chocolate, there’s no dairy involved – just the unique natural signature of this exceptional cocoa bean. For 11 years ChocoSol Traders has built a cult following in Toronto with its bean-tobar chocolate, in which the chocolate maker oversees every step of the production chain.
CHOCOLATE IS LIKE WILLY WONKA’S VISION. IT’S A WORLD OF IMAGINATION WHERE THERE IS NO RIGHT AND NO WRONG
ChocoSol sources raw cocoa beans directly from farmers, then, it roasts the beans, shells them, grinds them and refines them before turning them into bars. This chocolate is a missing link between the unadulterated, rustic, gritty and bitter chocolate of the indigenous people of Mesoamerica (cocoa’s birthplace) and the highly refined, smooth, sweet confection that comprises the majority of modern-day chocolate. Education, Porter says, is like a fertilizer to help the city’s love of chocolate grow. As such, education is central to ChocoSol, which hosts regular workshops on a variety of topics such as cacao, horizontal trade and ecological chocolate making. “It’s a culture we’re cultivating here, just like we would a garden,” she says. Over the past few years artisan chocolatiers have quietly transformed Toronto into one of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming chocolate cities. Local chocolate makers from in and around Toronto have been capturing
ABOVE: A detailed Easter collection from Toronto’s award-winning Soma Chocolatemaker RIGHT: Soma’s co-owner David Castellan
and his fingers, he uses a rainbow palette of coloured cocoa butter to create chocolate jewels that are equally Jackson Pollock, Emilio Pucci and Willy Wonka. But Olsen is well aware that having Instagram appeal means nothing if the flavours fall short. “I’d rather eat something tasty over something beautiful,” he says. Olsen draws on his diverse culinary skill set to create flavours that are left-of-centre in the normally conservative world of chocolate. His creations feature cocktail references (he uses sake and sherry), savoury combinations (such as lime, ginger and black pepper) and classic Middle Eastern influences (such as honey and orange blossom). “Chocolate, to me, was always like Willy Wonka. It’s a world of imagination. There’s no right. There’s no wrong,” says Olsen, who taught himself the chocolate arts through trial and error. Rather than trying to please everyone all the time, Olsen opts to keep things fresh with a house collection of nine flavours and limited one-off editions. “If you have 31 flavours, they aren’t special anymore,” he says. “They’re mediocre.” Another rising star for Toronto’s chocolate-obsessed Instagram crowd is David Chow. His pastry background led him to focus on bonbons and bars he makes using high-quality chocolate from the worldfamous Valrhona in France. “I love the playfulness of it, the ability to do anything at any time,” Chow says. He might conceive a flavour, like his award-winning honey-toffee-fennel bar, and move on to something entirely different the next day, like a Meyer lemon and thyme bonbon. His artistic sensibility allows him to
IF WE WANT GOOD CHOCOLATE IN THE FUTURE, WE HAVE TO CARE FOR IT dazzle his 20,000-plus Instagram followers, who turn the comment section into an infinity pool of superlatives and heart emojis. Chow operates his business, David H. Chow Chocolates & Confections, as a oneman show, hand-crafting his creations and doing his own deliveries, so Instagram helps this talented and perpetually on-the-run chocolatier market and grow his company. And growing is important, because aside from keeping up with production, Chow’s biggest hurdle is trying to find affordable real estate to open his own store. He rents a kitchen as he needs it and then sells wholesale to high-end grocery and specialty stores, including Pusateri’s and Drake General Store. He’s not the only Toronto artisan chocolatier facing this challenge. The city’s newest single-origin chocolate maker, Soul Chocolate, has a similar arrangement. Owners Katie Bartlett and Kyle Wilson rent a small room in the back of a →
the attention of critics internationally: Hummingbird – a chocolate shop based out of Almonte, Ont. – won best bar in the world at the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2016. Toronto’s Soma Chocolatemaker, too, has won big at the International Chocolate Awards numerous times, including a gold in 2015 for its Porcelana bar and a silver in 2016 for its Old School Milk Chuao bar. One of Toronto’s brightest emerging stars is Brandon Olsen, who collaborated with his fiancée – filmmaker and artist Sarah Keenlyside – to launch Chocolates x Brandon Olsen in late 2015. With top local restaurants such as the Black Hoof and Bar Isabel on his resume, Olsen is better known for his savoury kitchen skills, but sweets were his first love. Armed with a toothbrush, a spray gun
FROM TOP: Cocoa ready for the grinding process at Soma Chocolatemaker; Golden-hued chocolate bars from Soma approach their completed state
TORONTO’S MODERN CHOCOLATE SCENE BEGAN WITH SOMA source some of their cocoa. They plan to set up a miniature chocolate factory so the farm’s owner, Desmond Jadusingh, and his team can taste how growing, drying, fermenting and roasting impact the finished chocolate bar. It seems obvious, but it’s revolutionary: most cocoa farmers never get to taste the end result of their hard work. The investment in Jamaica is about more than the practical result of better chocolate for Soma. These days the cocoa industry is threatened on all sides by global warming, child labour, crumbling infrastructure, unfair trading practices and decades of prioritizing a bean’s hardiness and yield over flavour. “All great cocoa is hanging on a thread,” says Leung. “So if we want good chocolate in the future we have to take care of it.” This holistic philosophy is inherent in the bean-to-bar process and permeates Soma’s entire chocolate making approach. If their international awards are any indication, it’s a process that has served them well so far. →
Photography by Sandro Pehar
→ Corktown café to accommodate their timeconsuming bean-to-bar process. Open for a year and a half, they currently sell wholesale, but their dream is to move to Niagara, where they met, to open a coffee roaster and bean-to-bar chocolate facility. Perhaps the most creative solution to city’s chocolatier real estate challenge is taking the store out of the equation completely. Last May, Sean Hyun and Jeremy Guan – who became friends at University of Western’s business program – launched Cocoa Avenue, the first monthly subscription service focused on Canadian artisan chocolate. Over the past couple years, they noticed new local chocolatiers emerging every month. But it’s often difficult to connect all these talented chocolatiers with customers who would appreciate their work, so they started their service, which offers monthly chocolate collections that highlight local producers. One of the chocolatiers they’ve worked with is Sandra Abballe. Abballe has been a cocoa lover since she was a child, when she used to hide chocolate under her bed. She trained as a pastry chef, but her passion for chocolate was reignited full-force when she had the opportunity to compete at Canada’s World Chocolate Masters competition in 2013. She won Canada’s best moulded bonbon, and that sparked a business idea. At the time, no one in Toronto was making intricate chocolate show pieces or colourful hand-painted bonbons, so she began setting up Succulent Chocolate and Sweets. After the competition she found an affordable space in Vaughan that she transformed into her dream chocolate lab. Less than half a year later,
Succulent opened up for business – but not in the traditional sense. “Instead of opening a door and waiting for customers to come in and purchase chocolate, we approach them and bring people together with chocolate,” she explains. She and her team visit clients to host chocolate workshops and custom chocolate tastings, where they provide some education along with a chocolate fix. Although Toronto’s chocolate history dates back to over 100 years ago, when the now-ubiquitous Laura Secord opened its first store on Yonge St., the city’s modern chocolate scene began a decade and a half ago with bean-to-bar pioneer Soma. When owners David Castellan and Cynthia Leung founded their business, California’s Scharffen Berger was the only other North American chocolate maker focused on bean-to-bar. Today Soma is one of a few in Toronto, dozens across Canada and hundreds in North America. With a focus on quality ingredients, small batches and flavour, it’s easy to draw parallels to the craft beer movement that has exploded in the last decade. That comparison isn’t lost on Castellan and Leung, but they see the process as more similar to winemaking, though with one key difference. “A winemaker can just go into a field and take care of his grapes, but we have to depend on what happens before we get the beans,” Castellan says. “That’s the missing link, and it’s far away.” He’s looking for a creative solution to bridge that gap. In January he and Leung visited Bachelor’s Hall farm in Jamaica, where they
NOT HAVING A HISTORY OF TRADITION GIVES US FREEDOM TO EXPERIMENT → That recognition goes hand-in-hand with our increased food IQ here in Toronto. “We want more high quality products. It’s an extension of the food knowledge and sustainable food movements, and chocolate is just the next in line,” says Jennifer LakhanD’Souza, a program coordinator at George Brown College in Toronto. She developed George Brown’s professional chocolatier program eight years ago in response to industry demand. This
RIGHT AND ABOVE: Chocolatier David Chow hard at work on his colourful hand-crafted creations
autumn, the school is updating its program again with a new lab capable of making beanto-bar chocolate. Unlike cities with established chocolate culture like Brussels, Paris and Zurich, Toronto’s chocolate culture is young, but the local community sees that as an advantage. “I think not having the history gives us the freedom to experiment. There’s nothing tying us back to tradition,” says Lakhan-D’Souza. She has a point. Chocosol’s Jaguar is so rare it’s virtually unheard of, even among the most hardcore of chocophiles. The creative whimsy of Olsen and Chow has the Internet buzzing, and even veteran producer Soma is pushing the definition of chocolate (it has been known to substitute raspberry or mango for milk to create innovative twists on white chocolate). “We have great ingredients and food here, and people are starting to finally take notice. Not just here in Canada, but internationally as well,” says Chow. So you’re officially on notice, Europe. Toronto’s coming for your chocolate crown. f
The amount of food wasted by Canadians is staggering, but these local entrepreneurs are doing something about it, writes Sarah Parniak ILLUSTRATED BY MARIAH LLANES
Illustrations by Mariah Llanes
N A GLOOMY Wednesday in March, Artscape Wychwood Barns twinkled with fairy lights and beckoned with good smells. A modest and mixed crowd drifted between tables at Trashed & Wasted – an event held to promote food waste awareness – grazing canapés prepared by Oliver & Bonacini, the sustainable fishmonger Hooked and other well-known local purveyors. Peter Sanagan, who owns a popular eponymous butcher shop in Kensington Market, coaxed an apprehensive trio into sampling dainty open-faced sandwiches topped with puréed lambs’ brains and tender slices of pickled tongue from the same fleecy infant animal; things they’d never, ever buy on their own in a butcher shop. “It’s blended with mustard, so it doesn’t taste like brain,” Sanagan assured his guests. They mumbled mid-chew that it wasn’t so bad after all. (It was delicious.) At a booth built from produce skids, Kim Montgomery Rawlings dished out fried chicken butts. The commonly trimmed, nutrient-packed nubbins were slashed with
WHY AND HOW IS THERE SO MUCH WASTED FOOD WHEN THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING HUNGRY?
mustard from her restaurant, Montgomery’s, and were highly addictive between gulps of a crisp pale ale brewed by Rainhard with leftover rye and sourdough from Blackbird. Everyone hovered around a simple, standout snack from Actinolite: a deeply flavourful loaf of bread made from the spent grain and wort from Burdock Brewery. It was smeared with butter made from whey, the oftendiscarded byproduct of cheese and yogurt. Near the exit was a weathered cornucopia of perfectly edible produce donated by an urban food distribution centre: heads of lettuce with wilted outer leaves, a tumble of mottled okra, bruised tomatoes and wrinkled banana peppers for people to load into paper bags and carry home, gratis. With just over an hour left of the event, heaps of unclaimed vegetables remained, an eerie reminder of just how much food gets rejected or scrapped. Unless it’s putrefying on our doorsteps, the nearly 200 kilos of food each Canadian wastes every year is mostly out of sight and out of mind, like a half-eaten burrito shoved to the back of the fridge. As food waste becomes a more widely publicized issue, the way in which we’re influenced to think about it matters. Headlines leading up to Trashed & Wasted, urging readers to eat “garbage” for a cause, were effective clickbait. But Brock Shepherd – who organized Trashed & Wasted in conjunction with Second Harvest, a longstanding food rescue and redistribution charity – acknowledged that the term “food waste” needs a new marketing spin. “Get rid of the word waste altogether and talk about food loss and food rescue. I think that’s something people can understand: we’re losing food,” he says. “Waste is always going to have a connotation with garbage, but ‘lost’ means missing out on something because you’re letting it go bad.” Recovering otherwise squandered sustenance isn’t necessarily about dumpster diving or noshing on trash. It’s about mindfulness and stepping outside of habit and privilege to use ingredients to their full nutritional potential, whether that’s via canning or committing to eat leftovers for a few days. There’s nothing gross about it, but what is gross is the incredible amount of food that rots while people need to be fed. “There’s this hot topic of food waste, but I think that the duality is the question of why and how is there so much wasted food when there are so many people who are hungry,” says Kim Montgomery Rawlings, who owns
Montgomery’s at Queen and Ossington with her husband, chef Guy Rawlings. “Food waste should actually not exist. There’s enough business opportunity with these food products that if we were mindful, we could make sure it was all utilized.” “Food waste” might be an emerging buzzword, but it isn’t a fad. It’s a problem, and most of us are complicit. Stats from Value Chain Management International indicate that $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada every year. Most of this takes place at the consumer level (consider all the rubbery carrots, cartons of petrified takeout and curdled milk we’ve tossed over the years). Accustomed to the convenience of prepared meals and the luxury of ample portion sizes, we order extra dishes to flood our social media feeds with bounty and then leave them half-touched on the table. We let an expiry date tell us when to throw away an unopened can of tuna instead of employing our senses. In a culture of excess, we’re conditioned to view food as disposable. What we physically drop into a bag destined for the dump (or hopefully, the
ABOVE: Liberty Village’s Maizal restaurant operates at zero waste by recycling all its organic scraps on a farm in Schomberg, Ont.
compost heap) is just the end of the food waste chain. Food is spoiled at every turn: in fields and greenhouses, warehouses and factories, supermarkets, cafeterias and of course, in restaurants. Other developed countries are rallying to rescue food. Last year, France banned food disposal in grocery stores. A voluntary food waste reduction program in the U.K. saved participating businesses £67 million over the course of three years. Awareness initiatives and Wefood, a chain of supermarkets that sells surplus food and “ugly” produce at discount prices, have helped Denmark cut food waste by 25 per cent in five years. But despite its necessity and economic importance (which runs along agricultural, distributional, manufacturing, service and consumer capillaries), food has never really been a political priority in Canada. That’s not to say that it can’t become one.
Locally, the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC), a subcommittee of the Board of Health, has been working since the early ’90s to advance food policies and projects focused on health, diversity and sustainability. Currently, the TFPC is developing an initiative targeted at restaurants in an effort to gauge and heighten awareness about food waste in the industry. Montgomery Rawlings, who became an elected board member of the TFPC last October – two months after she became a restaurateur – notes that there’s been surprisingly little dialogue between the council and food industry until recently. “Restaurant” is a broad term – a rural Tim Hortons franchise has little in common with an uptown steak house – which is probably why there are no exact numbers (that I could find, anyway) on how much edible food is discarded in Canadian restaurants. Consumers are the leading food-losers, but restaurants and other service outlets on whose conveniences we depend (hotels, caterers, airlines, the prepared foods section of a grocery store) are also hemorrhaging foodstuffs. Establishing →
F O O D I S M .T O
→ lines of communication between the restaurant industry and policy makers is an important step to take. “This initiative is not trying to shun restaurants for being huge food wasters. It’s more like an opportunity to be more self-aware of where food waste might be happening within their business lines and promoting the fact that if you’re mindful about your waste then you can get economic returns,” says Montgomery Rawlings. Food is viewed as expendable because we’ve become disconnected with where and who it comes from. Which is why agricultural connection is a core value at Maizal, a Mexican restaurant in Liberty Village that operates at zero food waste. Every week, owner Iván Wadgymar drives to Cavaleiro Farm, an agricultural collective in Schomberg, Ont., with the trunk of his car stuffed with organic waste from Maizal. What the fowl, sheep, pigs and donkey don’t devour gets composted and turned back into the land, where Wadgymar grows a portion of corn that he grinds and forms into tortillas for Maizal. He also cultivates other Mexican staples like beans, amaranth, epasote, squash, flowers and tomatillos for salsa verde. (In 2015, Wadgymar won the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for his efforts.) Lately, he’s been taking patrons and staff members along for the ride. He
considers it his responsibility as a farmer and a restaurateur to instill a holistic food knowledge in others. “It’s very cultural here to just leave food on your plate, but if you go to other parts of the world, it’s blasphemy,” he says. “I think we’re made to believe that we have excess food. You go to a supermarket and you’d never think that the world would run out of food, it’s so stocked. But when you look to other parts of the world, you know what famine is and what food shortages are. It brings a whole different perspective.”
FOOD SEEMS EXPENDABLE BECAUSE WE’VE LOST CONNECTION WITH WHERE IT COMES FROM
ABOVE: Actinolite chef Justin Cournoyer finds creative uses for all his ingredients by pickling, fermenting and infusing whatever is in season
For Justin Cournoyer, chef and owner of Actinolite, reclaiming a relationship with the land and those who tend it is the cornerstone to grasping food’s worth. Cournoyer works closely with local organic and biodynamic farmers and he also grows, forages and preserves ingredients for his restaurant’s seasonal menus. “Really, it comes back to respecting the land and the people who are providing us with this food. A hundred and fifty years ago, you were lucky to get a little bit of meat on a Sunday and nobody would waste it,” he says. “Now, the value of our food is so low that we’re wasteful with it. At Actinolite, anything we touch we think of a way to utilize it.” This focused approach to seasonal, local cuisine requires a lot of preparation, but for Cournoyer it’s the surest way to respect food and to live sustainably. He dehydrates, pickles, ferments and infuses, making miso from meat scraps, flavour-packed oil from blackcurrant wood and vegetable seasoning from fermented and dried celery root. These unique flavours are applied year-round to whatever’s in season. “We need go back to basics,” he says.
“Start over and connect with our land, learn from our mistakes but utilize our technology and our culture to move forward.” While preparation can be a golden route to sustainability, it can also be a conduit to wastefulness. When restaurants make too much food, it often ends up in the garbage. Second Harvest has done an excellent job of redistributing meat, dairy and produce to those in need for over 30 years, but it’s against the law to donate prepared foods for health reasons. Feedback, an emerging Torontobased technology, may help narrow that gap.
The app, which aims to launch this summer, would alert users to bakeries, lunch spots and pizza joints with remaining food just before closing time. Users would pre-pay at a deep discount and then fill a biodegradable container with what’s left. Feedback incentivizes both user (with discounted food) and restaurant owner (with partial payment for what would have otherwise been a loss), but co-founder Josh Waters is really hoping to spark awareness. “People might initially download the app as a way to save on a sandwich or a slice of
pizza, but then start thinking, ‘Wow, there’s so much food that would have been thrown out if I didn’t come for it,’ ” he says. So what if the food waste problem was repackaged as economic opportunity? If we start looking at every swampy box of greens as a monetary loss, then maybe we’ll start paying attention to the crop of advantages that comes with respecting our food. We’ll be healthier eaters and more creative cooks with lighter carbon footprints and a deepened satisfaction in simplicity. That’s an opportunity worth rescuing. f
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RIGHT: Tomatoes Acrylic on canvas 36” x 36”
GETTING REAL Yes, those are acrylic paintings, not photographs. Welcome to the hyperrealistic world of Toronto artist Erin Rothstein 54
BELOW: Pomegranate Acrylic on canvas 36” x 48”
RIN ROTHSTEIN HAS been honing her skills in photorealistic painting since she was a child. It’s in her blood: her mother, uncle and grandfather were practitioners of the intricate style. The Toronto-based artist trained at Dawson College in Quebec, then at Concordia University in Montreal.
Rothstein originally began painting food to break out of a creative slump, and it was exactly what she needed. Food is now the inspiration for most of her work. “I’ve been a foodie forever,” she says. “Mealtime for me is sacred.” Her creations typically begin with a trip to the grocery store. Then she’ll take close-up photos of whatever she’s painting and begin
creating a likeness on canvas, leaving a bit of room for whimsy and improvisation. Usually it’ll take around 40 hours for a complete painting to come together. The resulting still lifes imbue a sense of magic and vibrancy into everyday food items that we easily view as mundane, but aren’t. f Check out more of Rothstein’s work at: erinrothstein.com
BELOW: Avocado Acrylic on canvas 36” x 48”
ABOVE: Kale Acrylic on canvas 36” x 48”
ABOVE: Purple Cabbage Acrylic on canvas 48” x 48”
RIGHT: Enime ndis exp elentCon nam, susUnt re pratis ent, conAxim qui conseri bustibu sciendi re esequae nempor sunt voluptas ressedit quates per
A culinary destination in Muskoka, wedding catering at Windermere House by Treeline Catering
RAISING THE STEAKS Wondering where to find the best steak in the city? So are we. Introducing the Graffigna Steak Awards, coming to Toronto after two successful years in the U.K.
E’RE ON THE hunt for Toronto’s best steak, and we’re bringing along some bona fide meat lovers to help us find it. Toronto has a long history as a steak town. Throughout the years, the financial district has been ground zero for anyone seeking an expensive cut of meat and a tall, rich glass of malbec. But now hip new restaurants on Dundas West, King West, Ossington and other hot neighbourhoods are getting in on the steak action, too. These days you don’t have to look for
white tablecloths to find a gorgeously marbled, dry-aged, prime cut of meat seared and seasoned to utter glory. Toronto’s ever-evolving restaurant scene continues to affirm that this is a city that knows how to truly appreciate a properly cooked cut of beef. So we’re proud to annouce that Graffigna – one of Argentina’s best wineries – is bringing its esteemed Steak Awards to Toronto. We’ve partnered with Graffigna to help make it happen after two successful years in London, England.
This spring, our carefully curated panel of judges will visit four restaurants across the city to determine which one serves the best steak. Will it be an old school spot or a new school joint? Formal or casual? Downtown or off-the-beaten path? We have no idea, but we’re ready to do the “work” to find out. And of course, we’ll be sure to share the results of our allimportant mission with you. The winner will be announced in issue five of foodism, which will be released this June.●
THESE DAYS YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK FOR WHITE TABLECLOTHS TO FIND A STEAK SEASONED AND SEARED TO UTTER GLORY THE WINE A superlative cut of meat demands a transcendent glass of wine. For nearly 150 years, Graffigna has produced complex, character-driven wines from Argentina’s San Juan region. Graffigna’s multi-layered red and white wines are a tantalizing match for whatever’s on the dinner table. Whether it’s a citrus-forward pinot grigio to go with a salad or a lush malbec to go with a steak, Graffigna will take your food to the next level.
THE VENUES 1. STK Not your daddy’s run-of-the-mill steak house. Toronto’s newest high-quality steak purveyor is also its most chic. The NYC-based chain opened its gorgeous restaurant in Yorkville a few months ago, bringing with it an ultramodern, jaw-dropping lounge setting and a truly luxed-up steak program.
2. FARMHOUSE TAVERN
Since opening in 2012 in the Junction Triangle, Farmhouse Tavern has established itself as a top-tier neighbourhood restaurant for those seeking a little escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The restaurant’s rustic setting is more Prince Edward County than Dupont Street, and its seasonally driven farm-to-table menu – featuring a famous côte de boeuf steak – truly stands out.
3. JACOBS & CO. No other steak house in the country can boast a menu quite like Jacobs & Co., which prides itself on presenting the most highly praised cuts of meat in the world. Executive chef Danny McCallum works with cream-of-thecrop beef from Japan, Canada and the U.S. to create a critically acclaimed steak menu that remains unrivalled in its sheer versatility.
4. READERS’ CHOICE We want your input. Find out how to vote for your favourite steak – from any restaurant in Toronto – at right.
GET INVOLVED Our judges will have their say, and so can you. Where is your favourite steak in Toronto? Let us know by visiting graffignasteakawards.ca before May 1.
THE JUDGES PETER SANAGAN One of the best butchers in Toronto – if not the best – Peter Sanagan is an authority on all things meat-related. He supplies many of the city’s top restaurants and also operates his own butcher shop in Kensington Market. Before opening his first store, he was a chef at high-end restaurants such as Mistura and Auberge du Pommier.
NATALIA MANZOCCO As resident food writer for Now Magazine, Natalia Manzocco covers the most fascinating trends in Toronto’s restaurant scene. She has written for the National Post, Toronto Sun, blogTO Metro, and Fodor’s, among other publications. When she’s not writing, she organizes Pink Market, Toronto’s LGBTQ craft fair.
TORONTO IS A CITY THAT TRULY KNOWS HOW TO APPRECIATE A PROPERLY COOKED STEAK
You’d be hard pressed to find a chef in Toronto as passionate about meat and wild game as Michael Hunter. After wooing the financial district crowds at Reds Wine Tavern, Hunter opened his own wild food-inspired restaurant on Dundas West, Antler, where he continues to redefine and reimagine Canadian cuisine with a modern touch.
SURESH DOSS foodism’s Toronto editor loves a good steak, so naturally he joined in on the hunt to find the best one in the city. Suresh Doss is a long-time Toronto food and drink writer who loves to eat across the GTA, regularly hosting food tours throughout the suburbs. He is also a contributor to publications such as the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Post City and Eater.
COCKTAIL HOUR We’ve scoured Toronto’s bar scene for the freshest mixed drinks – check out some of our favourites
REVERIE AT WELDON PARK COCKTAIL: My Thai This cocktail is a marriage between classic island-style cocktails and the effervescence of the flavours of Thailand. 569 College St. For more info: reverieatweldonpark.com
INGREDIENTS ◆◆ 2 oz spiced rum ◆◆ 2 oz coconut milk ◆◆ 2 oz pineapple juice ◆◆ 1 oz simple syrup ◆◆ 1 oz lime juice ◆◆ Three pieces of basil, for garnish ◆◆ Pineapple, for garnish
Add all of the ingredients into a shaker set, shake and pour the entire mixture into a glass of your choice. Garnish with basil and pineapple.
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NORTHWOOD COCKTAIL: No, Seriously This twist on a classic margarita is refreshing, crisp and bold. The fennel and the absinthe balance out the powerful traits of mescal. 815 Bloor St. W. For more info: northwoodto.ca
INGREDIENTS ◆◆ 1 oz fresh lime juice ◆◆ 1/4 oz agave syrup ◆◆ 1/4 oz Dillon’s absinthe ◆◆ 2 oz Jaral de Berrio mescal ◆◆ A few salt crystals ◆◆ 2 dashes of fennel bitters ◆◆ 2 slices of seedless cucumber
Partially rim a chilled cocktail glass with salt. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber with bitters, agave, lime and salt. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Double strain into the rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh cucumber slices.
BAR BUCA COCKTAIL: Capitano This is an herbal, strong sipper. The vermouth and amaro both have a floral herbaceousness that marries the Chartreuse to the agave well. It’s dry and boozy, but it goes down so easy. 75 Portland St. For more info: barbuca.ca
Northwood photography Photography by Philipby Sportel ###
IN G R ED IEN TS ◆◆ 1 oz Jaral de Berrio mescal ◆◆ ½ oz Martini dry vermouth ◆◆ ½ amaro Grecanico ◆◆ ¼ Green Chartreuse ◆◆ 1 dash bitters ◆◆ Lemon, for garnish
Add all ingredients to mixing glass, then stir with ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Finish with a lemon twist.
THE DRAKE COCKTAIL: Spruce Tip Sour Seventy five per cent of all Canada’s forests and woodlands are located in the Boreal region. That’s 307 million hectares. But upon casual conversation among friends and colleagues, we realized not a single person knew that. How could we bring awareness to the people? By creating a cocktail, of course. 1150 Queen St. W. For more info: thedrakehotel.ca
I N GREDIENTS ◆◆ 1 1/2 oz Beefeater gin ◆◆ 1/2 oz Laphroaig Quarter Cask Scotch ◆◆ 1 oz fresh lemon Juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz spruce tip syrup (recipe below) ◆◆ 1 egg white ◆◆ 2 dashes Angostura bitters
To make spruce tip syrup: Place a medium-sized saucepan on high heat. Add 1 cup of water into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add a handful of spruce tips. Allow to boil for 10 minutes. Remove spruce tips from the water. Add 2 cups of sugar. Whisk in sugar until completely dissolved. Bottle once cool. To make the cocktail: Place 1 egg white into a shaker. Place the shaker lid on and shake vigoursly for 15-20 seconds. Remove the shaker lid. Fill shaker with ice and add Beefeater gin, Laphroaig, fresh lemon juice and spruce tip syrup. Place the shaker lid on and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Remove the shaker lid and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with 2 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 spruce tip and a small pinch of ground black pepper.
EAST THIRTY-SIX COCKTAIL: The St. Germain The botanical flavours of gin pair beautifully with the sweet, floral and exotic flavor of St-Germain. An easy introduction to the world of gin cocktails. 36 Wellington St. E. For more info: eastthirtysix.com
INGREDIENTS ◆◆ 1 oz gin ◆◆ 1/2 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur ◆◆ 1/2 oz lemon juice ◆◆ Splash simple syrup ◆◆ 1 oz cava ◆◆ Lemon zest for garnish
In a shaker add some ice and pour the gin, St-Germain liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake hard and double strain in a martini glass. Top up with cava. Garnish with a lemon zest.
BORALIA COCKTAIL: A Pleasant and Steady Handshake A sophisticated cocktail combining refreshing acidity with fruit flavours. The sweetness of the nectarine mixes with the Grand Marnier, bringing out the complexity and woody notes of the Martell VS cognac. 59 Ossington Ave. For more info: boraliato.com
IN G R ED IEN TS ◆◆ 1 oz Martell cognac ◆◆ 1/2 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur ◆◆ 1/2 oz Grand Marnier ◆◆ 11/2 oz nectarine purée ◆◆ 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice ◆◆ 2-3 mint leaves ◆◆ Orange, for garnish
Photography by ###
Add ice to shaker. Add lemon juice and nectarine purée. Clap 2-3 mint leaves to express their scent, then tear them and add to shaker. Add Martell, St-Germain and Grand Mariner to shaker. Hard shake. Loosely strain over ice to allow mint leaves into glass. Garnish with orange wheel and mint sprig.
high res to come
A FESTIVAL OF BEATS AND BITES This summer, The Big Feastival Canada will combine incredible food experiences with live music, kids’ entertainment and a vast array of top celebrity chefs
HERE ARE A few must-dos that always appear on our summer hit lists: delicious food, live music and camping under the stars. This summer, for the first time ever in North America, one exciting festival will let us cross all three of these accomplishments off our lists at the same time. The Big Feastival is a three-day feel-good event that combines the best of Ontario’s fresh food offerings with headline music acts and plenty of all-ages fun in between. It all happens from Friday Aug. 18 to Sunday Aug. 20 at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte, just 90 minutes from Toronto. As a weekend camping festival, The Big Feastival is truly unique in its balanced agenda, which puts food and family fun centre stage alongside rocking tunes from top bands.
Celebrity chef Chuck Hughes headlines the culinary lineup, joined by an impressive list of Canadian personalities such as Rob Gentile, Amy Rosen, Alexandra Feswick, Vikram Vij. and Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Expect these seasoned chefs to demo their cooking prowess, dishing out techniques and tips at the Big Kitchen, while those eager for a more hands-on experience can participate in Cooking School sessions led by the chefs. And if you’ve ever had a burning question for one of these esteemed guests, you’ll get that opportunity at the Table Sessions, where intimate talks, tastings and demos happen in a small group setting. The music is, however, no afterthought at The Big Feastival. Weezer and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals headline a rock-out weekend, joined by OK GO, The Strumbellas and
DJ sets to keep you dancing. With a solid lineup of all-ages programming, the little ones may have even more fun than Mom and Dad. Iconic children’s entertainer Fred Penner headlines the main stage, along with characters from the hit animated TV series PAW Patrol and Treehouse TV’s dynamic duo Splash’N Boots. Yoga classes, family Olympics challenges and craft workshops are just some of the many activities that the whole family can look forward to. If the name sounds familiar, it could be because the concept for The Big Feastival was actually created six years ago in the U.K. by Jamie Oliver. The event takes his farm-to-table philosophy and applies it to the best parts of a summer music festival. It’s a safe, fun environment with plenty of farm-fresh, kid-friendly options along the way. ●
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NORTH AMERICA, THE BIG FEASTIVAL BRINGS FOOD, FAMILY FUN, ROCKING TUNES AND CELEBRITY CHEFS TO ONTARIO GET YOUR TICKETS Get in on the action with both single-day and weekend tickets to The Big Feastival on sale now. Staying overnight? There’s a range of accommodation options available from camping to RV camping to luxury glamping. We’ll see you there! The Big Feastival runs Aug. 18-20 at Burl’s Creek in Oro-Medonte. For more information and to buy tickets, head to TheBigFeastival.ca.
WIN FOUR WEEKEND TICKETS TO THE BIG FEASTIVAL
Toronto foodies won’t want to miss this opportunity to win a set of weekend tickets to The Big Feastival. Catch demos from celeb chefs such as Chuck Hughes and Vikram Vij, rock out to Weezer and indulge in delicious bites at this feelgood food-and-music festival. Your prize includes four adult weekend tickets, valued at over $700. For a full list of terms and conditions, and to enter, visit foodism.to/competition.
LEFT AND BELOW: Brian Leonard etches details onto a latte creation made with grass fed milk
A WHOLE LATTE LOVE Find out how grass fed milk from Rolling Meadow Dairy helps Toronto barista Brian Leonard craft intricate, detailed art in steaming lattes
ORONTO BARISTA BRIAN Leonard, also known as Barista Brian, transforms simple lattes into works of art. Known for his coffee caricatures and colourful latte creations, Leonard was named Toronto's Best Latte Artist in 2015. His latte art has taken him from TV appearances to film and music festivals as well as corporate events. “I’ll go anywhere I can take an espresso machine,” Leonard says. In order to obtain the precision and detail he requires to create a beautiful latte, Leonard uses grass fed milk from Rolling Meadow Dairy. “As a latte artist, I am particular about the type of milk I work with,”
Leonard explains. “I was so impressed by the quality of foam I could produce from Rolling Meadow Dairy, and loved that it was grass fed.” He usually uses 3.25 per cent milk for his latte art in order to get the best quality microfoam to create his designs. “But with Rolling Meadow, I can steam 1 per cent like it’s 3.25 per cent and still produce awesome lattes,” he says. Leonard also appreciates the way that grass fed cows are raised. “I learned that feeding cows grass year-round and sprouts in the winter is not only better for the cow, but also is better for you” he says. “Knowing grass fed milk has a lower environmental impact is something that matters to me and my generation.” ●
WIN TICKETS TO AN EXCLUSIVE LATTE EVENT
On June 21, a few lucky readers will have the opportunity to catch Barista Brian at work and learn more about grass fed dairy at an exclusive foodism event hosted at the popular Calii Love on King West. Contest winners will get to enjoy custom latte art creations crafted by Barista Brian along with delicious cocktails made with Rolling Meadow Dairy products. Fresh bites prepared by Calii Love and entertainment from a live DJ will round out the evening. To win a spot at the event and for a full list of terms and conditions, visit foodism.to/competition.
072 VIVE MONTREAL | 080 BOTTLE SERVICE | 086 ESCAPISM 089 NOSTALGIST | 092 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “AT NO POINT DID FRIES NEED TO BE MADE FATTIER AND MORE UNHEALTHY, BUT QUEBEC DID IT ANYWAY” VIVE MONTREAL, 072
VIVE MONTREAL Quebecâ€™s most populous city is alive with culture, history and of course, great food writes Jon Sufrin 72
Photography by ###
FIRST BECAME ACQUAINTED with Montreal’s unflappability while sipping on a mojito at La Distillerie, a refreshingly non-artisanal cocktail bar on Mont-Royal Avenue. This is a place where where the average patron has no qualms about carrying around the lightsaber-blue beverage known as Le Patriote, a Belieber-worthy concoction made with Skyy vodka, blue curaçao and Bacardi Black Razz rum. You see, nobody in Toronto would be seen in public holding a blue cocktail. Which got me thinking: why is that? It’s true that blue cocktails are inherently silly, but it takes a certain self-assuredness to wield one. Toronto – with its skinny jeans, Blundstones and mathematically perfect side-parts – is more hip than Montreal, but that just means we care too much about what other people think of us. Montreal, comfortable in its own skin, is far more concerned with having a good time than with appearing one way or another while doing it. “Montreal is the French New York, and we know it,” a Montrealer friend of mine remarked. “We are the Europe of Canada and
we know it. So we have that confidence.” It is a city that feels much farther away than a one-hour flight from Toronto, a city with an old town that rivals some of Europe’s prettiest, a city with a hodgepodge culture that is vaguely Parisian but distinctly its own. It is also a gourmand’s paradise, with two markets that could go toe-to-toe with Toronto’s lauded St. Lawrence (Atwater and Jean-Talon), an enviable number of internationally renowned chefs and, as Toronto coffee kingpin Sam James put it, “way higher quality everything.” While Toronto only recently began to shed its prudishness (some people still call it “Toronto the Good”), Montreal’s history more or less revolves around overindulgence. Since its inception as a colonial French mission known as Ville Marie in 1642, this has been a place where people go to flirt with obesity. Centuries ago, the first French settlers to arrive in the area were amazed to find a voluptuous assortment of wild game, seafood and edible plant life, along with a native population that knew how to properly feast on all that stuff. It didn’t take long for the
BELOW: La Banquise is the go-to destination for real-deal poutine in Montreal
MONTREAL’S HODGEPODGE CULTURE IS VAGUELY PARISIAN BUT DISTINCTLY ITS OWN colonists to develop a unique cuisine that has ripened into the rotund style of Quebecois cooking we know today. “The meals of the French in Canada, if I may permit myself to say so, are habitually overabundant,” observed explorer Peter Kalm in his 1749 account of life in the colony.1 Consider, for a moment, poutine. At no point in time did fries need to be made fattier, saltier and more unhealthy, but Quebec did it anyway. Then there are other Quebecois classics: tourtière, the traditional pie stuffed to maximum with all manner of meats; the hot chicken sandwich, heavy on gravy and white bread; and of course, the sticky-sweet sugar-glue known as maple syrup (Quebec produces 70 per cent of the world’s supply). The Quebecois tendency for debauchery was efficiently conveyed to me by Carlos Ferreira, founder of the glitzy Ferreira Cafe on Peel Street, as he described a meal at chef Martin Picard’s Cabane à Sucre. “It’s an experience like nothing else,” Ferreira said of the seasonal sugar shack, which dishes out heapings of corpulent Quebecois fare. “But you have to be careful. If you eat too much, you will die.” He then proceeded to stuff me to near death with European sea bass, salt cod fritters and whole shrimp bursting with umami. (Disclosure: one of my visits to Montreal was a press trip funded by Ferreira.) I haven’t yet eaten at Cabane à Sucre – I’ve bucket listed it – but I know what Ferreira means about the death-by-food thing. After eating through many of Montreal’s legacy institutions, my time spent in the city has been more or less characterized by some form of overconsumption-related discomfort. I now know that Quebecois food is so over-the-top good that it’s probably best to
BELOW: Junior on the red-hot Rue Notre Dame offers highly addictive Filipino food
GETTING THERE Montreal is an easy five-anda-half hour drive from Toronto. Alternatively, Air Canada and Porter Airlines both offer regular one-hour flights from Billy Bishop Airport. aircanada.com; flyporter.com
WHERE TO STAY Rooms at Loews Hotel start from around $250 per night. 1425 Rue Montagne, 514-285-5555; loewshotels.com/montreal-hotel Rooms Le Germain Hotel start from around $230 per night. 2050 Rue Mansfield, 514 849-2050; legermainhotels.com/en/montreal
GETTING AROUND Montreal’s Metro system is quick and efficient. Cabs are ubiquitous, and so is Uber (Quebec legalized the service in October of last year as a one-year pilot project). Bixi bikes are available for rental across the city.
Photography by Jon Sufrin and Tourisme Montréal
consume only a quarter of what you think you’ll have the capacity to eat. I learned this lesson the hard way on Rue Notre Dame, in and around Little Burgundy, which in recent years has become the culinary heart and soul of Montreal. Once a wasteland, this neighbourhood is now like Ossington on steroids thanks to chefs David McMillan and Fred Morin, who pioneered the area’s transformation when they opened Joe Beef there in 2005. Now it’s impossible to walk 10 feet without strolling past a slick new wine bar, food shop or restaurant, such as Satay Brothers (which serves some of the best Southeast Asian food in the city), Junior (which makes a crispygood sisig, a sizzling sweet-and-sour Filipino dish made from pork offal) or Boucherie Grinder (which has to be the most artisanal of artisanal meat shops in the city). Joe Beef, meanwhile, has become a near-universal starting point for exploring food and drink in Montreal, and I went in unprepared for the gluttony that was about to transpire. After tearing through a seafood platter laden with oysters, shrimp, lobster and deliriously funky sea urchin from Quebec’s Gaspé region, I proceeded
to stuff myself even further with deep-fried softshell crab, tartare and ruby-red duck breast. Although I planned to do other stuff afterward, the meal did me in. I spent the rest of the night in bed, unable to move, half regretting that I had somehow managed to eat so much and half proud of it. By the time I made it to Au Pied du Cochon, another Montreal institution, I had a plan of attack: no eating for eight hours beforehand, and no bread at the restaurant. These are things you need to consider when
AU PIED DU COCHON PUTS A STUPID AMOUNT OF FOIE GRAS IN EVERYTHING
going to a foie-gras-on-everything place. And Au Pied really does put a stupid amount of foie gras into just about everything: the poutine, the duck-in-a-can and the nigiri (this, with its vinegared rice and dangerously addictive maple-soy sauce, is a highlight). I can’t really think of a better way to spend an evening than by sipping on Calvados and pushing yet another piece of foie into your mouth. The best seats here are at the bar, where you can watch all the zaniness of a pirate-ship kitchen unfold as the cooks speak to each other in that magical (and truly Canadian) hybrid tongue known colloquially as “Franglais.” I survived that meal without spending the night sweating it out in the fetal position – but only barely. In a city partially defined by its love of poutine, the locals have a true and undying affection for La Banquise on Rue Rachel. It’s so universally acknowledged as the place for poutine that to praise it out loud will elicit a smattering of “no shit, Sherlock” eye-rolls. This 24-hour poutinerie has been open since 1968, and to this day it needs bouncers to deal with the lineups. La Banquise makes its poutine with red potatoes – which are slightly sweeter →
RUE NOTRE DAME IS NOW THE CITY’S CULINARY HEART AND SOUL
BELOW: The excellent Jean-Talon Market; dry-aged beef at the artisanal Boucherie Grinder
For a meticulous rundown of the history of Quebecois
cuisine, check out “Another World” by Canadian writer Adam Leith Gollner in issue 11 of Lucky Peach.
Photography by Jon Sufrin and Tourisme Montréal
→ than russet potatoes – that are twice-fried for crispiness. I am convinced that this salty-savoury-sweet combination cannot be improved upon and should receive some sort of governmental designation to preserve authenticity, like Neapolitan pizza. I got mine with hot dogs added (because why not?). Thankfully, Montreal is also good at morningtime debauchery recovery. The city isn’t as high on third-wave coffee as Toronto is, perhaps because of its European sensibility, but good coffee abounds. Cafe Myriade proudly proclaims that it is “not a third-wave coffee shop,” but it makes a good espresso nonetheless. On the bohemian Mont-Royal Avenue – my favourite neighbourhood in the city – La Distributrice provides caffeine to-go out of a “café” that’s the size of a closet. It’s worth a visit for the novelty or the coffee or both. The best espresso I had was at Larry’s, a wine bar in Mile End that draws in young, good-looking gastronomes by the half-dozen. It’s rare to find great coffee at a place that doesn’t specialize in it, which makes Larry’s a bit of an enigma. The cocktails are good, too: the Réunion – made with white port, lime juice and grapefruit juice – is a fine way to
recalibrate after a night about town. As is the sea urchin on bread with kohlrabi, because when in Rome, eat sea urchin before noon. It should be noted here that Montreal has prime access to seafood due to its proximity to the St. Lawrence river and the ocean. There are many restaurants in which to indulge, but for a slightly out-of-the-way spot where the lineups aren’t likely to include a single tourist, Lucille’s Oyster Dive on Monkland Avenue is worth the trek. The oysters here are some of the most flawlessly shucked I’ve seen, and there is also a beef dry-aging room in case your date isn’t obsessed with seafood. As I wandered Montreal’s streets – which, due to a history of bylaws, are less crammed with skyscrapers than one might expect – I got to thinking about Toronto’s tastemakers and how they would fare here. Which is pretty well, if Agrikol is any indication. This Haitian rum bar from the Black Hoof’s Jen Agg exudes the timeworn prettiness of a Caribbean old town: its aesthetic is part Jacmel – an arts and culture epicentre in Haiti – and part New Orleans. Agg, a master of ambience, has created a magical place that throbs with energy (and high-volume kompa) on even a midweek night. The food is soulful and the rum is some of the best you’ll ever taste (Venezuela’s Diplomatico can induce goosebumps). Upon returning home from a Montreal jaunt, I had the audacity to mention to a friend of mine that it’s a city I kind of enjoy. “Of course you like it,” he said, perturbed that I’d say something so obvious. “It’s like going to Europe without going to Europe.” He has a point. But I doubt even the French are comfortable enough to flaunt a sugary, neon-blue cocktail. f
REACH FOR THE SKY For an unforgettable dining experience, take a jaunt to 360 Restaurant high above Toronto and sample some of the best seasonal ingredients Canada has to offer
VISIT TO TORONTO’S CN Tower is commonly thought to be a typical tourist experience, but the enticing culinary offerings at 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower are anything but your typical fare. Located in a revolving space 1,150 feet above Toronto, it has better views of the city than any other restaurant, bar none. And while the dreamlike views are truly astonishing, the true highlight of a night at 360 Restaurant is the food. Executive Chef John Morris executes a seasonally changing menu highlighting the best of what Canada has to offer, including Ontario pickerel, dry-aged Alberta beef and black trumpet mushrooms from the West Coast.
The wine cellar – which holds the Guinness record as the world’s highest – has one of the most extensive selections in the city, with over 500 wines from around the world, including a vast array of Canadian choices. For further extravagance, 360 Restaurant also offers multi-tiered seafood towers packed with fresh Canadian seafood, like Atlantic lobster, Malpeque oysters, queen crab and house-smoked rainbow trout. In a city known for its fantastic restaurants, 360 Restaurant stands out – not just for its physical space, but also for its dedication to showcasing the best meat, seafood, produce and wine our country has to offer. ●
WIN WIN A DINNER FOR TWO The CN Tower's 360 Restaurant is world-class, taking full advantage of Canada's seasonal bounty with a continually changing menu from Executive Chef John Morris. Dine high in the sky by winning an extravagant dinner for two. Valued at $200, this dinner will see you and a guest indulging in some of the best food and wine in the city, all set to a panoramic view of Toronto's skyline. For a full list of terms and conditions, and to enter, visit foodism. to/competition
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BOTTLE SERVICE Satisfying springtime sippers to celebrate the arrival of blue skies and sunny days PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN FAIST
1 MALIVOIRE VIVANT ROSÉ 2016. Your introduction to spring starts with this rosé from one of Ontario’s best producers. It’s soft and delicate with grapefruit and hints of peach. $20, malivoire.com 2 NORMAN HARDIE RIESLING 2016. An amalgam of juice from PEC and Niagara. Riesling will always be one of our favourites from Norm. Best enjoyed with a seafood tower. $21, normanhardie.com
3 HUFF PINOT NOIR 2014 RESERVE. A classic pinot noir with ripe cherry notes and a woody, earthy backbone. A special occasion wine. Pair with a creamy mushroom pasta. $35, huffestates.com 4 KEW MARSANNE 2014. Marsanne, a famous Southern France varietal, blooms in Niagara due to similar growing conditions. This one showcases its own terroir with notes of citrus and oak. $20, lcbo.com
5 REBEL 2012 CHARDONNAY. Coats the mouth with a classic tango of green apple and oak. Lively acidity. Get a bottle and order sushi. Lots of sushi. $20, lcbo.com 6 ROCKWAY VINEYARDS 2014 FERGIE JENKINS RIESLING. A riesling that flaunts Niagara’s bounty, from ripe stone fruits to green apple, pears and plums. Rounded together with a touch of sweetness. Goes well with grilled fish. $16, lcbo.com
TORONTO’S PREMIERE TASTING EVENT RETURNS TO ROY THOMSON HALL SATURDAY MAY 6 6:30-10:00 PM! • A selection of 100 plus whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada and Japan • Premium spirits including rum, gin, tequila and cognac • Masterclass tastings • Cocktails • Live jazz and bossa nova • A crystal tasting glass • A gourmet table d’hôte • The opportunity to taste and learn with brand ambassadors, distillery representatives and industry professionals! TICKETS NOW ON SALE THROUGH ROY THOMSON HALL
2017 13 T H A N N UA L W H I S K Y G A L A W W W. S P I R I TO F TO R O N TO. C A
W H I S K Y • F I N E S P I R I T S • L I V E JA Z Z • M AS T E R C L AS S E S • COC K TA I L S
F O O D I S M .T O
1 APPLETON ESTATE RARE BLEND 12 YEAR. Pass this bottle between a small group of friends and youâ€™re guaranteed to get a different reaction from each drinker. It hints of fruit pies and chocolate; charred wood and coffee. $41, lcbo.com 2 AULTMORE 12 YEAR. A Speyside single malt that exudes a freshness from start to finish, with a nose of orange, grapefruit and a touch of vanilla. $80, lcbo.com
3 BOODLES GIN. The legendary U.K. gin is one of our favourites to sip, but it also makes a badass martini. Strong and bold at first, soon mellowing out with a creamy finish. $30, lcbo.com 4 ABERLOUR 12 YEAR. A huge chunk of the character in this single malt comes from the use of oloroso sherry casks. A friendly whisky that will easily win over newbies with its light flavour profile. $65, lcbo.com
Photography by ###
Photograph by ###
1 2 3
1 COUNTY ROAD 3 FARMHOUSE SAISON. A Belgian-style saison frothing with cloves, baking spices and summer fruits. $6.50, lcbo.com 2 CLIFFORD PORTER. One of the more interesting porters to come out of Ontario recently. Bursting with cocoa and earthy flavours. Perfect for those pre-season barbecues. $3, lcbo.com 3 BLACK OAK 10 BITTER YEARS. Hop lovers will dig this. A multitude of citrus fruits and lots of green grassy notes packed into one bottle. $8, lcbo.com
Microgreens produced by Aqua Greens and provided Photography by Calii by ### Love
GETTING THERE London is a quick two-hour drive, train ride or bus ride from Toronto. But if you’re in a rush, Air Canada and WestJet both offer flights that will get you there in less than an hour. viarail.ca; greyhound.ca; aircanada.ca; westjet.ca
COVENT GARDEN MARKET
Don’t write off Ontario’s version of London just yet. Peel back the layers to find a lively city with no shortage of things to see, do, eat and drink, writes Jessica Dawdy
T’S TEMPTING TO dismiss the food scene in a city like London, Ont. A cursory Google search of local restaurants brings up page after page of stuffy, outdated fine-dining establishments or cheap, lowquality eats aimed squarely at the city’s sizeable student population. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover a city that’s increasingly recognizing the value of its surrounding farmlands and the potential to convert old industrial buildings into cool independent breweries. Downtown is, of course, the most convenient base for eating and drinking
LONDON, ONT. ◆◆ Population: 352,000 ◆◆ Birthplace of Justin Bieber ◆◆ Also known for: the London Fringe
your way through the Forest City, and Hotel Metro’s prime location near Covent Garden Market is tough to beat. Better still, the hotel’s stylish rooms could easily go toe-to-toe with those you’ll find at a boutique property in Toronto or any other large city. Grey colour palettes and 10-foot-high ceilings – along with brick and wood accents – give the rooms a tasteful, contemporary, industrial feel. Rooms also feature sleek bathrooms with rain showers and separate soaker tubs, plus thoughtful extras like Aveda bath products. f hotelmetro.ca
Founded in 1845, Covent Garden Market is one of London’s most enduring cultural hubs. The modern incarnation of the market is a spic and span building filled with neat rows of vendors selling flowers, fresh produce, baked goods and handicrafts. The market is producer-based, with its vendors growing, raising, baking or otherwise making everything they sell. From May to December, stalls spill out onto the building’s sprawling front patio for an expanded outdoor market. coventmarket.com
FORKED RIVER BREWING CO. Forked River Brewing Company was London’s only craft brewery when it opened in 2013, paving the way for the other microbreweries that have since popped up across the city. It’s also one of the few Londonbased brewers that’s distributed in Toronto, on tap at bars like Get Well and the Wren, and it’s stocked at many LCBOs. Their core beers are the easy-drinking Capital Blonde Ale and the Riptide Rye, a hop-forward pale ale. Forked River also produces seasonal brews and, more recently, it introduced Alpha Test, the first in a new series of experimental IPAs. forkedriverbrewing.com
THE ROOT CELLAR
FIRE ROASTED COFFEE CO.
The Root Cellar’s setting in an Old East Village heritage building is a fitting match for its menu of organic, farm-totable fare. A map on one wall pinpoints where the restaurant’s ingredients come from, with most sourced within 150 kilometres. The seasonal menu is hip yet approachable, featuring inventive vegan and vegetarian options as well as crowd-pleasers like burgers and pasta. The brews on tap come from London Brewing Co-operative, an affiliated microbrewery with a shared focus on local ingredients. Their approach to brewing is epitomized by their signature Local 117 brew, which is made only with ingredients sourced from within a 117-kilometre radius. rootcellarorganic.ca
Photography by Jessica Dawdy
With multiple locations, Fire Roasted is one of London’s most popular indie cafés. The company roasts over 35 types of coffee, including 20 single origin beans. Owner David Cook is a vocal proponent of London’s small businesses: he also manages the Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market at Western Fair, where local vendors set up every Saturday. fireroastedcoffee.com
HEALTHY, LOCAL AND CONVENIENT In an age that demands ever more of our time and energy, truLOCAL makes eating healthily, locally and ethically just a quick website-click away
EING A CONSCIENTIOUS food consumer on a regular basis takes time, commitment and dedication. It’s not always possible when you’re on a hectic schedule – unless you’re getting your food delivered straight to your door, that is. TruLOCAL, based out of Milton and serving all of Ontario, offers customizable food plans that bring high-end, locally sourced, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats directly to you at home, at work or at the cottage. First, choose the size of your box and how often you want it delivered. Next, choose what goes into the box. Products include air-chilled chicken from southwestern Ontario, antibioticfree pork from Haldimand County and wild-caught Icelandic cod. The meats arrive on dry ice in fully recyclable coolers, so they’ll stay frozen and good-to-go until the end of the day – even if you’re not on-site to receive the delivery. Products are vacuum-sealed and blast frozen in small quantities to ensure they are as fresh as the day they were packaged when you thaw them. Go with staples – such as striploin, bacon, chicken breast or ground beef – or go more exotic with cuts of elk or bison. All of it is sourced from the best suppliers in Ontario. TruLOCAL ships provincewide and you can change addresses between orders, too. So if you’re heading to the cottage for the weekend, you can have your food delivered there. Eating healthy and supporting local farmers is often easier said than done. But with truLOCAL, you can spend your time doing things you really need to do instead of waiting in a checkout line. ●
WIN TRULOCAL BRINGS HIGHEND, LOCALLY SOURCED, HORMONEFREE AND ANTIBIOTIC-FREE FOOD DIRECTLY TO YOU
WIN TWO TRULOCAL BOXES Bring some of the best meat Ontario has to offer into your kitchen by winning two free truLOCAL boxes. Valued at $250 apiece, each box contains a customizable selection of meats such as striploin steak, lamb loin chops, bacon, chicken breast or wild-caught seafood. For a full list of terms and conditions, and to enter, visit foodism. to/competition
Jessica Dawdy pays tribute to Sneaky Dee’s, the decades-old dive-bar you can’t help but love
Photography by Suresh Doss
ENTION SNEAKY DEE’S to anyone over the age of about 25 who has lived in Toronto for a few years and their response will be something between a chuckle and a groan. With its graffiti-covered walls and upper-floor indie music venue, Sneaky Dee’s may style itself as a punk dive bar, but the people it attracts are far more diverse than the typical rocker crowd. Whether you’ve gone there because a friend of a friend was playing a show, or simply because the food is cheap and the portions gut-busting, few Torontonians have escaped their youth without developing some kind of a relationship with Sneaks. It was the food – more specifically, the King’s Crown nachos, described with equal reverence and regret by those who have tried them – that once drew me to Sneaky Dee’s. No matter how hungry you are, there’s always a moment when that behemoth of a plate arrives at your table and you wonder why, exactly, you’ve ordered this ridiculous mess. The King’s Crown is the type of spectacularly insane dish you want to photograph, but looks horrifying when you do – particularly if your phone is set to auto-flash, which is guaranteed to make the guacamole appear sickly-green. Taking that first bite requires some strategizing, since a plate of King’s Crown nachos is like a food version of Jenga. Although rather than collapsing the tower, a
King’s Crown loss means ending up with a mouthful of dry tortilla chips, the toppings trapped in the middle. The choicest chips, those covered with the greatest variety of toppings, are always the most difficult to extract. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the clock is ticking: Sneakys’ nachos are best eaten as quickly as possible, lest they become soggy. While it’s easy to make fun of Sneaks’ food, let’s be honest, Tex-Mex isn’t refined even at its best. Tex-Mex takes the subtler elements of Mexican cooking and drowns them in cheese. It’s Mexican food with too much of everything. It’s designed to be darkly satisfying as you eat it and to leave you feeling confused and terrible afterwards. In that way, Sneaky Dee’s does Tex-Mex justice. This summer will mark the restaurant’s 30th anniversary. So, for everything you might think Sneaky Dee’s does wrong, it’s also clearly doing a lot right. Sneaks’ success comes down to its reputation as a reliable spot that welcomes everyone from penniless twenty-somethings to aging hipsters to even families (before 8 p.m., anyway). Aside from introducing a few vegan options, Sneaks’ menu has been as dependable as its booths are battered. It makes an unsung case for spurning the latest dining trend in favour of something approachable, consistent and a little bit weird. Because there’s a comfort that comes from walking by that manic sign and knowing that Sneaks is still there and – for better or for worse – exactly as you remember it. f
While the provincial government introduced a support program for small distilleries and cideries in early March, it was too late for Toronto Distillery Co., which closed its doors shortly after the announcement. The owners are currently searching for a cheaper production space.
IT’S NOBU TIME
NYC’s high-end restaurant chain Nobu has announced it is opening in Toronto as part of a massive hotel/ condo/restaurant complex. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa – who co-owns the chain with Robert De Niro, among others – is known for his blending of Japanese and Peruvian flavours.
NEW KITCHEN INCUBATOR OPENS
Kitchen24, a 28,000-square-foot culinary space, is launching in Toronto this May. It will feature commericial kitchens, a photography studio, storage, classrooms and other services geared toward startups, food trucks and caterers.
EAT FOR A CAUSE
Your appetite can help end world hunger with the Love Food Give Food campaign, taking place April 1 to May 31. Participating restaurants will donate at least $1 from select menu items to Action Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to the fight against hunger. Jackpot Chicken Rice and Barque Smokehouse are among the venues involved in the campaign.
PABLO HITS TORONTO
Popular Japanese bakery chain Pablo is set to open its first North American location in Toronto. It is expected to take over the old Spadina Garden restaurant on Dundas West this spring. The Osaka-based bakery is known for its drool-worthy cheese tarts, which have a softer, creamier middle than a cheesecake and come in a variety of flavours.
Jackpot Chicken Rice photography by Barb Simkova
Canada’s premiere hospitality symposium – which turns 10 this year – returns in May to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Terroir 2017 will see the who’s who of Canada’s food and drink industry hosting workshops, seminars and talks. Fitting with our sesquicentennial celebrations, this year’s Terroir will reflect on the history, diversity and leadership of Canada’s culinary landscape. Tickets are now on sale.
TORONTO, ONE BITE AT A TIME SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND YOU’LL BE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST TRENDS AND OPENINGS ON THE TORONTO RESTAURANT SCENE. DON’T MISS OUT. SIGN UP AT FOODISM.TO/NEWSLETTER
The culinary cachet of any city begins with the quality of its markets, and Toronto’s are pretty spectacular
Hungry in the city? So are we. Happily, Toronto has a superlative selection of bars and restaurants that’ll provide whatever you’re after – whether it’s a lively local farmers’ market, a cheap slice of ’za or really great sushi
BEST OF THE REST
2 Sorauren Farmers’ Market
4 The Leslieville Farmers’ Market
50 Wabash Ave.
20 Woodward Ave.
While most farmers’ markets in Toronto are weekend-based, this west-end market has built a loyal following that visits Sorauren Park every Monday for a small but wellcurated list of local farmers and producers. The market is open year-round (it moves outdoors in the spring and summer months) and covers all the basics, such as meat, cheese, eggs and produce. You can even pick up a bottle of kombucha. Prepared meals are also available and are popular.
What started off as a community-driven popup has quickly evolved into one of Toronto’s most popular Sunday gatherings. The family-friendly market takes place outdoors and operates out of Jonathan Ashbridge Park seasonally. It has grown from featuring a few local producers to hosting some of the best food pop-ups in the GTA. From cold brew coffee to flaky croissants and spicy jerk chicken sandwiches, it’s one of the best ways to spend a lazy Sunday morning.
3 Evergreen Brick Works Market
5 The Stop Farmers’ Market
550 Bayview Ave.
601 Christie St.
Ten years running, the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market remains one of the city’s largest and most popular weekend markets. It’s part farmers’ market, part pop-up hall. Set to the Brick Works’ rustic industrial aesthetic, the market sees farmers and food producers from Prince Edward County to Niagara put up seasonal produce booths from May to October. Bonus: the market also regularly features local wineries and breweries.
This year-round market operates out of the historic Artscape Wychwood barns space and features over 50 different producers and farmers from across the province. It has everything from Niagara apples to artisanally produced bee products. The market is a busy destination, with over 1,500 visiting it weekly. There’s also a market café with a variety of hot-food vendors to visit once you’ve fully checked off your grocery list.
1 St. Lawrence Market 93 Front St. E.
The historic, internationally renowned St. Lawrence Market – once touted as the best food market in the world by National Geographic – houses some of the longestoperating market vendors in the city. It is a destination for those seeking topquality produce, meat, seafood, cheese or international ingredients. On Saturdays, a lively farmers’ market sets up on the south side with seasonally conscious producers from across the province. For fans of bacon (so, everybody), two St. Lawrence vendors are locked in a perpetual duel to lay claim to the city’s best peameal sandwich: Carousel Bakery and Paddington’s Pump. stlawrencemarket.com
IT’S BEEN A SLICE
When you’re short on cash but long on appetite, nothing beats a slice of roasted dough with cheese and tomato sauce. Here’s where to find the best in the city
1 Village Pizza 759 Dovercourt Rd.; 761 Dundas St. W.
Village Pizza’s Neapolitan-style pies are the kind you might expect to be served at a sit-down pizzeria, but the two locations (Bloorcourt Village and Dundas West) are casual, counter-service affairs with slices priced at $5. Among the signature pizzas is the Thanks, Obama!, a tongue-in-cheek spin on a typical Hawaiian pie topped with barbecued Spam and pineapple. The menu also includes a vegan-friendly pizza in addition to classics – such as pepperoni and margherita – and a small selection of beer, wine and spirits to wash it all down.
BEST OF THE REST 2 North of Brooklyn
4 Pizza Pide
650 Queen St. W.; multiple locations
949 Gerrard St. E.
Former Pizzeria Libretto cooks join forces with an NYC pizza-joint owner to put a Neapolitan twist on casual slices. The non tomato-based slices stand out, like the White with garlic-ricotta sauce and a sprinkling of arugula on top. There are four locations across town, including our two favourites: within the bars Get Well and Greater Good.
The Italians do not have a lockdown on pizza. Turns out when you put the right toppings on pide – Turkish flatbread – you get an intensely delicious, pizza-esque thing. These crispy, thin-crusted gems come stuffed with roasted lamb, Turkish sausage or mozzarella. A very good reason to check out the up-and-coming Gerrard Street strip in the east end.
5 Pizza Gigi
184 Ossington Ave.; 269 Dunn Ave.
189 Harbord St.
Chef Jonathan Poon (Chantecler, Bar Fancy) has gotten into by-the-slice pizza, which means you’re going to want to go to Superpoint, his new-ish restaurant. Other Toronto pizzerias are jumping on the Neapolitan train but Poon is going the way of New York with a Vulcan pizza oven. Slices are around $4.50 a pop, with toppings such as pepperoni, anchovies or meatballs.
Everyone knows about Pizza Gigi for two reasons: one, because of the $1 million worth of marijuana – plus a bunch of other drugs – that police found there in 2011, and two, because of the awesome pizza. This Harbord Street hole-in-the-wall has been in business for over 40 years, which says a lot. Nothing fancy here, just good, no-frills pizza. Pick your own toppings or get a signature pie.
Toronto has amazing access to seafood for a non-seaside town, which means you donâ€™t have to hit up Japan to find great sushi. Here are our top picks 96
1 JaBistro 222 Richmond St. W.
From the team that brought us Kinton Ramen and Kinka Izakaya is JaBistro, a hip, stylish sushi spot in the entertainment district with top-notch sake and fantastic cocktails. JaBistro is equally adept at the newfangled aburi-style sushi (which is seared with a blowtorch) or classic nigiri with prime seafood and lightly vinegared rice. Grab a seat at the sushi bar for an out-of-this-world omakase experience (it’s listed on the menu as kyukyoku, or “ultimate fresh pieces”). If your date is a fan of sushi, this is the place where you want to bring them.
BEST OF THE REST 2 Ichiban Sushi
58 Wellington St. E.
81 Harbord St.
Despite the fact that it’s part of a chain, Ichiban on Wellington has managed to maintain independent ownership and its own identity. The sushi chefs are the same ones who were here on the first day the restaurant opened. The menu won’t win any points for innovation or for hard-to-find seafood, but when it comes to classic sushi offerings near the financial district, this is our favourite.
Omakase (chef’s choice) is the only true way to experience sushi. At Yasu, chef and owner Yasuhisa Ouchi executes a seasonally driven dinner for less than 20 patrons at a time. Each piece is carefully crafted by hand and presented at its peak. This is a special dinner and one you need to book well in advance. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have world-class sushi in Toronto.
10 Bay St. #105
7634 Woodbine Ave.
Vancouver-based Miku has literally lit up Toronto with its aburi (blowtorched) sushi. While most Torontonians are familiar with elaborate sushi boats and omakase, aburi sushi was still fairly new when Miku first opened. Aburi isn’t for purists, but what’s great about it is that the added heat gives a smoky, caramelly nuance to each piece of fish. Miku is one of the few sushi restaurants in Toronto that can accomodate large groups.
For nearly two decades, sushi chefs at Zen have provided a transcendental Japanese food experience that is unique to the city’s landscape. One of Toronto’s best sushi restaurants, it was situated in Scarborough for years before recently moving to Markham. The new location has a refined look, but the ethos is the same: really good sushi without forcing you to break the bank. As of early April, Zen now serves lunch, too.
GUNN'S HILL HANDECK: Cow’s milk cheese washed in Beau’s beer and aged for 9 extra months.
THORNLOE DEVIL'S ROCK: A big, bold, spicy blue that’s sharp on the edges and luscious inside.
ROSEWOOD ESTATES HONEYCOMB: Pristine can't seem to stock enough of this.
Ontario cheese is having a moment, so we asked Cheese Boutique's resident guru, Afrim Pristine, to put together an epic spring plate with the best local stuff available 98
UPPER CANADA COMFORT CREAM: Just the right amount of funk. Like camembert, but less bitter.
COUNTRY CHEESE ASHLEY GOAT: A Loire valleystyle goat’s milk cheese from Woodbridge, Ont.
Cheese Boutique. 45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292
ACE BAKERY ARTISAN TOAST: Pristine's favourite is the flavourful cranberry-andseeds version.
BACK FORTY BONNECHERE: A sheep's milk cheese that's nice and smoky from its toasted rind.
rioja wine in canada*
*IWSR 2015 (based on volumes)
Foodism - 4 - Toronto, food and drink