IT’S TIME FOR FROSÉ! FEATURED AT
OF TORONTO 15-18 JUNE GARRISON COMMON FORT YORK
M OS C ATO R OS É
Suresh Doss ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Jon Hawkins, Mike Gibson WRITERS
Andrea Yu, Jessica Dawdy COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT
Design ART DIRECTOR
Matthew Hasteley LEAD DESIGNER
Abigail Robinson, Emily Black PHOTOGRAPHERS
Ryan Faist, Kailee Mandel, Sandro Pehar CONTRIBUTORS
Sai Sumar, Mark Bylok ADVERTISING
Darren Wells, Nicole Aggelonitis LEAD DEVELOPER
AJ Cerqueti PRINTING
Krista Faist CHAIRMAN
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A few years ago, when the barbecue trend was ramping up in Toronto, I made a pilgrimage to Austin, Texas. This is where pitmasters feverishly proclaim their reverence for brisket and simple salt-and-pepper rubs. At 5 a.m. on a rainy morning, fellow foodism writer Mike Di Caro woke me up to head over to Franklin Barbecue. I was hungover from an oafish amount of bourbon. Franklin already had a lineup, and we realized we had planned poorly. The others had prepared for the long wait with lawn chairs, coolers and snacks. What happened next is one of the best parts about barbecue culture. Within minutes, strangers became friends. There were people from Houston, California, Cleveland and beyond. The next five hours passed quickly as the line grew to 150. And the lineup was totally worth it. Toronto has its share of barbecue spots, and while the lines aren’t like Franklin, we get very close to the real thing. In this issue, Jon Sufrin breaks down the basics of barbecue (p. 34), while guest columnist Danielle Bennett effuses about being a female pitmaster (p. 31). Also, Jessica Dawdy has a food lover’s guide to music festivals (p. 42), and Sai Sumar investigates the rising trend of beekeeping in Toronto (p. 58). Meanwhile, whisky writer Mark Bylok shares his love of bourbon country (p. 72). If you happen find me waiting in line for some barbecue this summer, come and say hello. Just remember the cardinal rule: no one cuts the line. 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 DANIELLE BENNETT
FEAST 034 SMOKE POINTS 042 NOSH PITS 050 CHARLIE’S BURGERS 058 CATCHING A BUZZ 064 COCKTAIL HOUR
072 BOURBON AND BEYOND 080 BOTTLE SERVICE
088 ESCAPISM 091 NOSTALGIST 092 THE DIGEST
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094 THE SELECTOR 098 DECONSTRUCT
SP I RI TS CO LLECT I O N
Indulge Responsibly Decadent desserts meet premium spirits. Find NEW Häagen Dazs Spirits in store now.
HÄAGEN-DAZS TRADEMARKS REPRODUCED UNDER LICENSE BY / MARQUES DE COMMERCE HÄAGEN-DAZS REPRODUITES SOUS LICENCE PAR: NESTLÉ CANADA INC., NORTH YORK, ON M2N 6S8
— PART 1 —
GRAZE “ONTARIO IS STUCK IN THE 1920S, IF PREVAILING ATTITUDES TOWARD LIQUOR ARE ANY INDICATION.” THE FOODIST, 010
010 THE FOODIST | 014 DAYTRIPPER | 017 THE RADAR 018 WEAPONS OF CHOICE | 023 RECIPES | 031 DANIELLE BENNETT
Ontario’s artisanal craft spirit producers are being stymied by bureaucratic red tape, Jon Sufrin writes
TOR ONTO’S TOP B R EW E RS
1 SIOBHAN MCPHERSON
Meanwhile, spirits are prohibited at grocery stores (which are newly permitted to sell beer and wine, albeit with many restrictions) and at farmers’ markets (which are permitted to sell ciders and VQA wines). One could get the impression that the provincial government is making sure that spirits – and by extension, craft spirits – remain hidden away in a dark corner, like an awkward dinner guest that everyone kind of hopes will just go away. The only plausible explanation is that we are experiencing the remnants of prohibition, when liquor was the demon drink blamed for most of society’s woes. This is visible in the language of the LCBO’s mandate, which lists “social responsibility” as one of its aims. You may have noticed that wine and beer – the lower-tier alcoholic evils, apparently – are generally cheaper than spirits. But it’s time to move on from the ’20s. B.C. has already done it. There, craft distillers pay zero provincial taxes on their first 50,000 litres sold. Last I checked, B.C. had not turned into a wasteland of alcoholic zombies as a result. In March, the Ontario government did announce support for craft distilleries and cideries in the form of a new program that could give producers up to $220,000 per year. Local distillers applauded the move, but some of them called it out as merely an attempt at saving face. Craft spirits are an art form and deserve to be recognized as such. And the entrepreneurs who produce them deserve the same government support – and the same tax breaks – that other small businesses get. f
Mascot Brewery With a background in biology and chemistry, Siobhan McPherson has a penchant for working with unusual grains and multiple strains of yeast and bacteria. Her beer has won coveted awards, including gold at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards.
ROB WELCH Left Field Brewery
After getting his start as a homebrewer, Rob Welch earned his stripes at Montreal’s Brasserie McAuslan. His mathematical approach to brewing helped Left Field win a gold at the Canadian Brewing Awards last year.
Photograph by Suresh Doss, Ryan Faist
HE YEAR IS 2017. If life were a Robert Zemeckis film, we would be living in an ultramodern futuristic society. But Ontario is stuck in the 1920s, if prevailing attitudes toward liquor are any indication. Let’s take the case of the fledgling Toronto Distillery Co. as an example. Last November, co-founder Charles Benoit said that if a proposed tax aimed at made-inOntario spirits was passed by the provincial government, he would be forced to close down his craft distillery. The tax passed in December, meaning distillers must pay out a massive 61.5 per cent of revenue generated by products sold on premises. True to its prediction, the Toronto Distillery Co. closed its retail outlet in March. This is an artisanal company that aims to “showcase Ontario’s agricultural bounty” through its whisky, gin and other liquors. In theory, it’s the type of business the government should be falling over itself to support. But the government, you see, does not like the idea of liquor. When was the last time you saw a prominent section at the LCBO dedicated to local craft spirits? The answer, I assume, is never – because this rarely, if ever, happens. Yet local craft beers and VQA wines get their own special sections all the time. It gets even weirder. Microdistilleries pay the same taxes that large distilleries do, while local wineries and craft beer producers get sizable tax breaks. Wineries, too, pay only 6.1 per cent taxes for wines sold at their shops, 10 times less than the rather crazy 61.5 per cent paid by local distilleries.
LOCAL HEROES 3
CHRISTINA COADY Folly Brewpub
Opened in 2015, Folly Brewpub is quickly establishing itself as a craft beer contender with its lineup of yeast-forward saisons, ales and barrel-aged beer. Christina Coady – who brews alongside Chris Conway – originally studied to be a sommelier before getting into homebrewing and then making beer professionally. Folly is listed as a top 10 Ontario craft brewery in the 2017 Ontario Craft Beer Guide, and its beer can be found on tap at bars across the city.
B EST LOCAL B UT TE RS
MARY BETH KEEFE
Beer pioneer Ron Keefe opened Granite in 1991 as one of the first craft breweries in Toronto. His daughter, Mary Beth, was 11 years old when she began working alongside him at the brewery. She is now head brewer and has helped Granite win Best Regularly Produced Beer in Ontario at the Golden Tap Awards numerous times. Mary Beth works solely with Ringwood yeast, which lends a distinctive floral character to Granite’s beer selection.
Great Lakes Brewery
If Mike Lackey’s Twitter account is to be believed, he gave up his “dream of becoming a Benedictine monk” and now brews at Great Lakes. He has been there for 26 years, making him a true craft beer veteran. In addition to helping Great Lakes win numerous awards – including Canadian Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2013 and 2014 – he is known for his Project X small-batch beers, available for purchase at the brewery.
Ontario produces a fine assortment of high-quality butter – you just need to know where to look for it ROLLING MEADOW GRASS-FED BUTTER
ANGIE’S GOLDEN GHEE Up your flavour game with this locally made organic ghee – otherwise known as clarified butter – from Angie’s. Not only is Angie’s made with no preservatives in small batches, it brings that nutty flavour that ghee is sought out for. Ghee also has a high smoke point, making it great for deepfrying and sautéing. @angiesgoldenghee
STIRLING CREAMERY CHURN84 Stirling Creamery was founded in 1925, and it still barrel-churns its butter using sweet cream, just like it did back then. Its European-style butter has long been the baker’s choice due to its deliciously high fat content (84 per cent, to be exact), which helps when you’re crafting intricately layered croissants and pie crusts. stirlingcreamery.com
Photograph by Ryan Faist
We’re fans of this creamy butter from Ontario’s first grass-fed dairy producer. Cows that are raised primarily on grass – as opposed to corn, as is usually the case – produce milk with a fuller, richer flavour. This butter, made with grass-fed milk, has an underlying earthy note that is particularly noticeable in savoury dishes. rollingmeadowdairy.com
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Other must-try spots
Conveniently situated between Niagara and Toronto, the shoreline city of Burlington is maturing into a vibrant culinary destination
PinToh Cuisine; 399 Elizabeth St. A regional foodie tour of Thailand, from the old city of Chiang Mai to the bustling neighbourhoods of Bangkok. Order the “PinToh experience.” pintoh.ca
Burlington’s culinary DNA is rooted in two things: brunch and fine dining. A proper tasting tour begins with the city’s high-end stalwarts, which continue to evolve with the city’s everchanging landscape and its increasingly discerning palate.
◆◆ Spencer’s; 1340
Lakeshore Rd. Believe the hype: the view is magnificent, and the brunch is luxurious. You’ll find the full spectrum of seasonal cooking here. Spencer’s is a great introduction to the vibrancy of Burlington. spencers.ca
◆◆ Blacktree; 3029
New St. Matteo Paonessa’s fine-dining restaurant attracts patrons from across the province. It’s a tasting experience that journeys through classic French and modern techniques. @matteoblacktree
Like other corners of the province, Burlington’s dining future is soon to be a bright tapestry of international influences, from West Indian to East Indian to Persian. And lately there has been an influx of Southeast Asian restaurants, too.
◆◆ Rayhoon Persian;
420 Pearl St. Rayhoon presents a menu that is influenced by Iran and its surrounding countries, with all the key components untouched. Go there with a group and order the sampler platter. @rayhooneatery
Tamp Coffee Co.; 480 Brant St. From hand-crafted lattes to Chemex pourovers, this is quite simply the best coffee in town. Grab some brew and explore the city’s lakeside. tampcoffee.com
◆◆ D Hot Shoppe;
4155 Fairview St. One of the best West Indian rotis in the GTA. Run by a husband-and-wife team from Trinidad and Tobago. The signature chicken roti is a highlight, along with the cuttlefish and shrimp variations. dhotshoppe.com
The Sunshine Doughnut Company; 439 Brock Ave. Nothing pairs with coffee like a good doughnut. Sunshine has a rotating menu of them – get the lemon poppy seed. @hey___sunshine
E ASTB O U N D B R EW I N G C O.
Grazing DRINKING GRAZING DINING TRENDING
THE RADAR We take you through the best new bar and restaurant openings from around the city Dining
The highly anticipated new restaurant from Jeff and Nuit Regular (of Pai and Sukhothai fame) opened its doors in the entertainment district in May. Kiin is the culmination of chef Nuit Regular’s lifelong passion for Thai food. She promises to present an ingredientdriven menu of unexpected Thai dishes, including food traditionally eaten by royalty in Thailand. kiintoronto.com
AF1 CAR IB B E AN CANT E E N
Adrian Forte – chef and co-owner of the Dirty Bird – recently launched a project near and dear to his heart: a casual Caribbeaninspired eatery on College Street focusing on all things jerk. Forte, who hails from Jamaica, has gone the distance to source pimento wood, which he uses to smoke an assortment of proteins that he serves up at the shack. The jerk pork and oxtail have already become instant hits. @af1caribcanteen
E ST IA
Prolific restaurateurs Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth have closed their struggling NAO Steakhouse in Yorkville and reopened it as Estia. The new restaurant specializes in Mediterranean dishes served family-style, with the aim of channelling the warm, communal vibes of coastal towns throughout Greece, southern Italy and Spain. Dishes from chef Ben Heaton – who wowed critics at the erstwhile Grove on Dundas West – are prepared mainly over charcoal or in a wood-burning oven in a nod to traditional European cooking techniques. estiatoronto.com
C OPET IN After announcing the closure of his last remaining Origin location earlier this year, chef Claudio Aprile is on the rebound with Copetin, a new restaurant slated to open in June. The MasterChef Canada judge has not revealed many details about his new venture, but expect something Latin-inspired that will be open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Copetin will set up shop in Origin’s former digs at King and Church. copetin.ca
Toronto’s east end welcomes another local watering hole with this 80-seat brewpub in Riverside. The food menu emphasizes shareable small plates – such as herbed fries or chicken-fried calamari – while in-house brews will soon be available from the beer shop. Eastbound is serving guest beers until its brewery is up and running. eastboundbeer.com
CAF E L ANDWER
This Israeli chain known for its casual café atmosphere and brunch offerings recently opened a location in Maple, north of Toronto. It has garnered an instant following with lineups out the door – quite a feat for a restaurant outside of the downtown core. landwer.ca
T HE H A L A L G UYS
New York City’s much-loved Middle Eastern chain has made its debut in Toronto. The Halal Guys, which began as a Sixth Avenue food cart in 1990, has since expanded worldwide and gained a dedicated following for its gryos, falafel and those addictive packets of white sauce that make everything taste delicious. thehalalguys.com
WEAPONS OF CHOICE Weâ€™ve got all of your grilling, searing and saucing needs covered this summer Photography by Ryan Faist
ME AL S ON W HE E L S NAPOLEON TRAVELQ 285X, $410
Photograph by ###
With its all-terrain wheels and foldable frame, this 12,000-BTU grill transforms pretty much any outdoor space into a grilling party. napoleongrills.com
1. B L E NDING IN KITCHENAID PRO LINE BLENDER, $530
Become an alchemist of barbecue sauce, marinades and salad dressing with KitchenAid’s most powerful blender. kitchenaid.com
2. F L IP SIDE HEIRLOOM LIVING SPATULAS, $15-$18 These spatulas are soft and safe but have high heat resistance, so they won’t crack or melt. heirloomliving.us
3. UNB R E AK AB L E FALCON ENAMELWARE TUMBLERS, $11 For a classy but functional outdoor drinking vessel, try a nearly indestructible tumbler made from porcelain and steel. falconenamelware.com
1. WATE R WO RLD
3. ST E E LY PAN
SANSAIRE SOUS VIDE MACHINE, $270; SOUS VIDE SUPREME VACUUM SEALER, $120
ALL-CLAD NON-STICK SQUARE GRILL PAN, $150
Sous vide allows you to cook food with scientific precision before finishing it on the grill. This modern cooking technique is less complicated than you’d think. sansaire.com, cedarlaneculinary.ca
Cooking outdoors isn’t always a possibility, but All-Clad makes sure you can still get crisp, clear, cross-hatched grill marks on your food from the comfort of your kitchen. all-clad.ca
2. TOOLS O F THE TRADE
4. DONE DE AL
ALL-CLAD BBQ TOOL SET, $200
WEBER IGRILL MINI, $70
If your grill is portable, it helps if your tool kit – tongs, fork, brush and spatula – is too. Plus, the carrying case helps you look like a professional. all-clad.ca
Barbecue like a millennial with this nifty gadget, which allows you to track your food’s doneness with a simple glance at your smartphone. weber.com
ALWAYS BOLD. Since 1870, Graffigna has been crafting authentic wines that represent the flavour and pasiรณn of Argentina and its people.
SMOKE ’EM IF YOU GOT ’EM
WHETHER YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR OLD-FASHIONED TEXAS-STYLE BRISKET OR NEWFANGLED SOUS VIDE COOKING, WE’VE GOT THE RECIPE YOU NEED
HERE ARE TWO types of barbecuers in this world: diehard purists and those who think it’s OK to play around a little bit. We’re not going to choose sides since both philosophies have merit, so in this issue we have recipes to appeal to both schools. For traditionalists, we have a few recipes from Pitmaster ($25, chapters.indigo.ca), a veritable encyclopedia of lore from barbecue legends Andy Husbands and Chris Hart. Their brisket is seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper and is cooked low and slow in an offset smoker, which is exactly how any
classic pitmaster from Texas would do it. For those who aren’t afraid of taking a bit of a modernist approach, we’ve got some recipes from The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook ($30, chapters.indigo.ca) by influential Toronto chef Chris McDonald. Sous vide can seem daunting, but it is an approachable method that can yield incredible results for the home cook. And yes, you can use sous vide as a precursor for barbecue if you’re feeling adventurous. The sun is shining, so pour yourself some wine, turn on the grill and get cooking. f
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F O O DISM RE CIPE S, IN ASSOC IAT ION W IT H G RAF F IG NA
Photograph by ###
Graffigna is one of the oldest operating wineries in all of Argentina. Graffigna sources premium grapes from some of the highest peaks in Argentina, creating complex wines that have more intense colours, bold fruit flavours and a food-friendly freshness. As most Argentinian wines are from Mendoza, Graffigna uniquely comes from the
province of San Juan. For nearly 150 years, Graffigna has produced multi-layered wines that 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 wines will take your food to the next level.
Andy Husbands & Chris Hart’s
CORNBREAD THIS IS NOT A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN-STYLE CORNBREAD, BUT IT IS CAKEY, LIGHT, A BIT SWEET AND TOTALLY CRAVEABLE I N GREDI EN TS Cornbread ◆◆ 2 cups granulated sugar,
divided ◆◆ 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour ◆◆ 2 ½ cups coarse yellow
cornmeal ◆◆ 1 tsp table salt ◆◆ 2 tbsp baking powder ◆◆ 4 large eggs ◆◆ 1 ½ cups whole milk ◆◆ 1 ½ cups buttermilk ◆◆ 2 ½ tbsp vegetable oil ◆◆ ½ cup melted butter ◆◆ 1 batch of honey sea salt
Honey sea salt butter ◆◆ 1 cup salted butter, softened ◆◆ ¼ cup wildflower honey ◆◆ ½ tsp kosher salt ◆◆ 1 tsp large-flake sea salt,
such as Maldon sea salt
HIS IS THE cornbread served at the Smoke Shop. There are many schools of thought on what makes traditional southern cornbread: sugar versus no sugar, flour versus no flour. Luckily, we aren’t making any claims that this is a traditional southern cornbread. This is what we grew up with in New England.
Honey sea salt butter method
1 Place butter, honey and kosher salt in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated. Fold the sea salt into the butter. f
Graffigna Pinot Grigio
Citric notes and floral nuances, with hints of white peach and apricot. A pleasant aftertaste that’s crisp and nicely balanced. LCBO #164756
◆◆ 24 pieces
Preparation ◆◆ 15 mins
Photograph by Ken Goodman
1 Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Coat a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking pan with cooking spray and dust with 1 cup (200 g) of granulated sugar. 2 Sift together the flour, cornmeal, remaining 1 cup (200 g) of sugar, salt, and baking powder. 3 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the eggs, milks, oil and melted butter. Mix
on low for 2 minutes until combined. Turn off the mixer and add the dry ingredients in three batches, whipping on low after each addition until everything is combined. 4 After all of the dry ingredients have been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and combine any remaining ingredients into the batter. Whip the batter on medium for 5 minutes. 5 Pour the batter into the centre of the pan and let it spread naturally to the sides of the baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the bread comes out clean. It should be lightly golden brown on top. 6 Cool 10 minutes before cutting into 24 pieces. Spread honey sea salt butter over the cornbread and serve.
Andy Husbands & Chris Hart’s
OLD SCHOOL TEXAS PITMASTER-STYLE WITH A BEAUTIFUL, CRISP CRUST AND A MOIST, JUICY INTERIOR
N MANY REGIONS, brisket cooks use aluminum foil to protect the meat and create an unctuous, moist interior – but the Texas pitmaster will skip the foil. Butcher paper protects the brisket the way foil does, producing juicy meat, but, unlike foil, the paper lets the steam escape, preserving the crisp crust. This recipe is best with an offset smoker burning pecan, hickory or oak.
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INGRE DIE NTS Brisket ◆◆ 1 whole (14 to 16 pounds)
untrimmed brisket ◆◆ Kosher salt ◆◆ Coarse black pepper ◆◆ White bread, sliced onions,
and jalapenos, for serving
Equipment ◆◆ Offset smoker ◆◆ Pecan, hickory or oak wood
1 Rinse brisket under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place on a cutting board fat-side down. Trim away all of the hard fat that sits between the point and the flat portions of the brisket. “Square up” the brisket by trimming fat from along the sides, and if the edge of the flat is thin on one end, trim away an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) to create an even thickness. Trim any excess fat from the top of the flat but don’t worry about the silver skin. Flip the brisket meat-side down and trim the fat cap to an even ¼-inch (6 mm) thick. 2 Sprinkle a light coating of kosher salt on the fat side, then a light coating of the coarse pepper. Pat with your hand to help the seasonings adhere and then flip the brisket and repeat.
Profound and fruit-forward, with red berries, sweet spices, ripe tannins and a hint of black pepper backed by toasted notes from its oak aging. LCBO #230474
◆◆ Pink butcher paper
Be sure to season the sides as well. The balance is up to you, but we prefer a light hand with the kosher salt and the pepper. Let the brisket sit out at room temperature while you get your smoker ready. 3 Preheat the smoker to 275 F (140 C) using pecan, hickory or oak. 4 Place the brisket fat-side up with the point positioned towards the hotter part of the smoker. Smoke for 4 hours and then flip. Smoke for an additional 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 175 F (80 C).
Tear off two 3 foot (90 cm) pieces of butcher paper. Criss-cross the pieces of paper and wrap the brisket tight, securing with masking tape. 5 Return the brisket to the smoker and continue to smoke it until the internal temperature reaches 195 F (90 C), about an additional 2 hours or so. The paper should be oily and soaked with brisket fat. 6 Rest the brisket for at least a ½ hour. Slice it against the grain and serve with white bread, sliced onions and jalapenos – no sauce please. f
◆◆ 14 to 16 people
Preparation ◆◆ 30 mins
ONCE YOU’VE GONE SOUS VIDE, YOU MAY NEVER WANT TO COOK FRIED CHICKEN ANOTHER WAY AGAIN
HIS IS AN ideal method for creating fried chicken that’s simultaneously juicy and crisp. Cooking the chicken sous vide yields precisely cooked meat. That way, when you’re frying it, you can focus on achieving a perfectly golden, crispy crust. Coleslaw and corn on the cob are my must-have classic accompaniments for this meal.
1 Preheat the hot water bath to 141 F (60.5 C). 2 Place chicken on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife or kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove. Cut off tips and flat sections of the wings, leaving just the first joint attached to the breast. Turn over chicken and cut in half through the breastbone. Cut out breastbone and wishbone. Cut off leg portions, keeping skin intact as much as possible. Cut each breast crosswise into 2 pieces of equal weight, leaving a small, thick piece attached to each wing. Separate thighs from drumsticks at the joint. Save the bones and
Graffigna Pinot Grigio
Citric notes and floral nuances, with hints of white peach and apricot. A pleasant aftertaste that’s crisp and nicely balanced. LCBO #164756
trimmings for stock, if desired. 3 Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Season liberally to taste with salt and pepper. Place thighs and drumsticks in one sous vide pouch. Place breast pieces in other sous vide pouch. Spread out pieces so they are not overlapping; seal pouches.
ING R E DIE NTS Fried chicken ◆◆ 1 whole chicken ◆◆ Salt and ground black pepper ◆◆ 3 cups all-purpose flour ◆◆ 2 tbsp garlic powder ◆◆ 2 tbsp onion powder ◆◆ 2 tbsp sweet Hungarian
paprika ◆◆ 1 tbsp kosher salt ◆◆ 1 tsp cayenne pepper ◆◆ 1 tsp ground black pepper ◆◆ 2 cups buttermilk or plain
kefir ◆◆ Vegetable oil for frying
◆◆ 4 people
◆◆ 2 hours
4 Refrigerate breast pouch. Immerse thigh-and-drumstick pouch in hot water bath and cook for 1 to 2 hours. 5 Lower hot water bath temperature to 138°F (58.9 C) and immediately add breast pouch. Cook for 3 hours more. 6 Remove chicken pouches from hot water bath, transfer to an ice bath and chill for 30 minutes. 7 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, cayenne and pepper. Pour buttermilk into a medium bowl. 8 Open pouches and pat chicken dry with paper towels. One piece at a time, dredge chicken in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Dip into buttermilk, rolling to coat completely and letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge chicken again in seasoned flour mixture, turning to coat completely. Place coated chicken on a baking sheet or platter
and set aside. When all pieces are completed, refrigerate the baking sheet, uncovered, until ready to use, for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours (this will help keep the chicken from overcooking). Discard any excess flour mixture and buttermilk. 9 Pour enough of the oil into a heavy, deep saucepan to come 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the side, being sure to leave enough space to more than accommodate the amount of oil that will be displaced when the chicken is added. Heat oil until thermometer reads 370 F (188 C). Starting with legs and drumsticks, add chicken to oil, in batches to prevent crowding, and cook, turning often, for 6 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. As completed, transfer pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover with foil and a folded kitchen towel to keep warm. Serve on warm plates. f
Photography by Per Kristiansen
BRING THIS PREPARED DESSERT TO A DINNER PARTY ALONG WITH YOUR TORCH AND LOOK LIKE A HERO
1 Preheat water bath to 176 F (80 C). 2 In a small saucepan, combine milk and cream. Bring to a simmer, stirring, over medium heat. Remove from heat. 3 In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, egg, 2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar and vanilla. Gradually whisk in milk mixture. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. 4 Pour mixture into jars, leaving ½ inch (1 cm) headspace. Wipe rims of jars to ensure a good seal. Add lids and turn just until snug. Immerse jars in water bath and cook for 50 minutes. 5 Remove jars from bath and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. 6 When ready to serve, open jars and spread 1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar over each custard. With torch at full blast, wave it over sugar. Avoid blackening – you want a deep golden brown. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes, then serve. f
I N GREDI EN TS Crème brûlée ◆◆ 1 cup whole milk ◆◆
cup heavy/whipping cream
◆◆ 2 egg yolks ◆◆ 1 whole egg ◆◆ 2 tbsp granulated sugar ◆◆ 1 tsp vanilla extract ◆◆ 1/4 cup granulated sugar
F O O D I S M .T O
◆◆ 4 people
Preparation ◆◆ 90 mins
Photograph by Per Kristiansen
RÈME BRÛLÉE IS always the most popular dessert on restaurant menus, and it’s easy to make with a sous vide device.
ALWAYS BOLD. Since 1870, Graffigna has been crafting authentic wines that represent the flavour and pasiรณn of Argentina and its people.
360 Restaurant is one of Canadaâ€™s finest dining destinations, located atop the iconic CN Tower. Featuring spectacular 360-degree views of the city and an inventive, local and Canadian-sourced, seasonal menu, 360 is an inspiring gastronomic experience in an unsurpassed setting. 360 boasts an extensive array of wines from Ontario, Canada and around the world, from its innovative cellar in the sky.
Reserve the ultimate dining experience cntower.ca/360 â€˘ 416-362-5411
CHANGING THE FACE OF BBQ
Cookbook author and TV star Danielle Bennett says it’s time for female pitmasters to be taken seriously
AM A PROFESSIONAL barbecuer. A pitmaster. Whatever you want to call it. Barbecue is my life. I have had this OCB (obsessive compulsive barbecue disorder) since 2006, after judging a barbecue contest and biting into some succulent ribs and brisket. It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am now, because I just happen to be female. And where am I now? I’m a successful host of a television show on Travel Channel and Food Network. I’ve had appearances on multiple TV programs as a judge and competitor, including the Today Show, BBQ Pitmasters, American Grilled, Kids BBQ Championship and the Marilyn Denis Show. I’m the only person to ever have an American O-1 visa as a barbecue expert, and I’ve won multiple grand championships and hundreds of awards. I’ve travelled to every major barbecue mecca in North America. I’m a motivational speaker and bestselling author of a cookbook that has been nominated for a Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
But I’m female. Let me explain what that means in the world of barbecue. It means that when I walk into a barbecue store and ask questions, employees will often refer to my husband instead of me. It means that my recipes and words can be unduly scrutinized. It means regularly getting hate mail telling me where to go and asking me who the hell do I think I am, and what right do I have to talk about barbecue. That’s the sanitized version of the mail I get. It means arguing with potential book publishers because you don’t want a pink cookbook cover with a tiara – you want to be taken seriously. A discussion that would never happen with a man. It means being publicly ridiculed in barbecue forums for defeating a male contestant and because I stood up for myself on a TV show. The double standard is alive and well in the barbecue industry. I have also not done myself any favours because I refuse to kiss anybody’s ass. I don’t
Photograph by Traeger
THE DOUBLE STANDARD IS ALIVE AND WELL IN BBQ
play the schmooze game well. I’ve passed on opportunities that would have been financially worthwhile, but I can’t take a cheque for something I don’t believe in. I’d rather work with people who have integrity. A well-meaning friend once told me maybe I could be just a little bit softer. I’d prefer to just be me. I’ve worked extraordinarily hard to get to where I am – no one handed it to me. You can’t be lazy. I am really grateful for the long-term friends that I have made in this industry, males and females. When I first started out, I was lucky to meet some of the most legendary barbecue families in America. I was honest with them and told them how much I just wanted to learn. I received guidance from them and an ongoing education in barbecue. For me, that education is never-ending. I am always learning, always experimenting and always trying out new things. Over the last few years, things are finally starting to change. American barbecue is a booming business that still doesn’t see very many females, but there’s been a definite shift in viewing them as a marketable commodity in the barbecue world. I really want the women in barbecue to be taken seriously. It’s time. Every year I’m asked what’s it like to be a female barbecuer in a man’s world. I really would rather they ask me for some kickass recipes. Now I work with companies that see the value in having diversity, new viewpoints and new vantage points. It’s great to see some of those long-standing walls come down. Like some of the amazing few women in barbecue before me, I’m helping pave the way for future generations. I like it. I like it a lot. f
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FEAST “BARBECUE SEASON IS A CHANCE TO RETURN TO OUR MOST PRIMITIVE ROOTS” SMOKE POINTS, 034
034 SMOKE POINTS | 042 NOSH PITS | 050 CHARLIE’S BURGERS 058 CATCHING A BUZZ | 064 COCKTAIL HOUR
Jon Sufrin consults pitmasters, butchers and chefs from across the city for the ultimate guide to barbecuing in Toronto
IRE AND MEAT. Two things. A universe of possibilities. This is what is so enticing about barbecue season: it’s a chance to return to our most primitive roots, to cook food the way we did before we sat at the top of the food chain. Barbecue came into being when humans were forced to figure out how to make tough, sinewy cuts of meat taste good. The answer is to cook those cuts as slowly and patiently as possible, to coax out their flavours over hours and hours – sometimes even days. Surely, if cavepeople could cook with fire, it must be easy. And many people think it is. Then you realize you’re not even sure how to properly start a fire. So you start to learn how to barbecue. And if you’re a good student, you’re rewarded with some of the best food you’ll ever have: ribs, chicken and brisket blacksmithed with the essence of wood. Yeah, knowledge is important. And you’ll find some in the upcoming pages. Maybe you’ve heard of this stuff before. Or maybe you’ll find something new to incorporate into your repertoire. Because that’s another great thing about barbecue: no matter how many opinions you stumble across – and there are many – you can always create your own style.
Photography by Suresh Doss, Shutterstock
WITH BARBECUE, YOU CAN ALWAYS CREATE YOUR OWN STYLE 35
REGIONAL BBQ With Lawrence La Pianta “AUTHENTIC” BARBECUE MEANS something different depending on which region of the U.S. you’re talking about. Lawrence La Pianta, pitmaster at Cherry Street Bar-B-Que, gives us a quick and simple overview of the most influential styles of southern U.S. barbecue.
W I T H DAVI D NE INSTE IN
The world of barbecue is filled with cooks who think their way is the best way. As such, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Barque’s David Neinstein, a certified judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society, clears up some stubborn barbecue myths.
1 Myth: Fall-off-the-bone is good
Barbecued ribs should have a bit of pull. Fall-off-the-bone means one of two things: either the ribs are boiled – which leaches out all of the flavour – or they’ve been overcooked.
2 Myth: Grilling = barbecuing
Canadians think barbecuing is done with direct heat using a grill, but true southern barbecue uses indirect heat to cook low and slow.
3 Myth: You should soak wood chips
There is a misconception that soaking wood chips will make them smoke better, but what you’re actually seeing is steam, not smoke. I stopped soaking my wood chips, and the food is still delicious.
4 Myth: Pink is bad
Some people think that pink indicates undercooked meat, but with barbecue it’s just a smoke ring: a result of the meat cooking with the smoke.
5 Myth: MSG is dangerous
I’m an advocate for using MSG. It’s just a type of salt. I use it in some of my rubs – around a teaspoon per pound of meat. It adds umami to the rub.
Much of the cooking here will be done with post oak wood. You’re going to see a lot of simple salt-and-pepper rubs. It’s more of a purist’s style. Many classic barbecue places in Texas feel that if you need to use sauce, they didn’t do their job. It’s very beef-centric, whether it’s beef ribs, brisket or shoulder.
Carolina Whole hog cooking is very much a part of Carolina barbecue. You get a lot of beautiful pork crackling, which they’ll incorporate into the food. They’ll use brick pits and cook over hot oak coals. Carolina barbecue sauce is distinct: it’s very thin, vinegary and tangy.
Kansas Very sauce-centric, and they’ll cook everything: chicken, pork, beef, turkey. You might even get some mutton in there. The sauce is usually tomato-based and is sweet, spicy and tangy. You’re going to get a lot of hickory wood, which is very distinct and powerful. Brisket burnt ends are a classic Kansas dish.
Memphis There are two types of barbecue here: wet and dry. One is dry-rubbed, and the other is a very sweet, sugar-based style with sauce. They’ll often mop the meat with sauce as it cooks, which caramelizes in a layer on top. Baby back ribs make a big appearance in Memphis. This is where you’ll start seeing those complicated 17or 18-ingredient rubs.
THE WORLD OF SPICE RUBS
With Hidde Zomer
A COATING OF SPICES makes meat taste, look and smell delicious, and it creates the crispy, desirable crust known as bark. It also helps smoky flavours cling to whatever you’re cooking. Hidde Zomer, chef at the Carbon Bar, lets us know what goes through his mind when putting a spice rub together.
WI T H MAT T SULLIVA N Matt Sullivan, chef at Real Sports Bar & Grill, serves a lot of meat to a lot of people. The key to a good barbecue sauce, for him, is that it complements what you’re serving instead of covering it up. This Carolina-inspired sauce – with a bit of Asian influence – is powerfully tart on its own, but it makes a great sparring partner for fatty meat.
RIB SAUCE ◆◆ 5 cups apple cider vinegar ◆◆ 11/2 cups ketchup ◆◆ 1 cup chicken stock ◆◆ 5 tbsp brown sugar ◆◆ 2 tbsp smoked paprika ◆◆ 2 tbsp onion powder ◆◆ 2 tbsp garlic powder ◆◆ 2 tbsp chili powder
1 Keep it simple. I swear by 50/50 salt and pepper. Most of my rubs start with that base. For our brisket, we use just salt and pepper. Brisket has a beautiful flavour, so I don’t like to add a lot of other spices. With pork, you can get a bit more creative. 2 Easy on the sugar. Many rubs contain a lot of sugar. That is cheating, in a way. Sugar caramelizes, so it will give you more bark, but sugar also tends to burn. I use very little of it. 3 Don’t overpower. Stay away from garlic powder or onion powder – granulated is better. Fresh aromatics can be very strong, and they can burn. Stick with pre-ground spices, and be careful with bold spices like turmeric or coriander. For ribs I like to use smoked paprika and chili powder, and I even have rubs that use coffee. 4 Do the Salt Bae. I’ve seen people really pack in the rub, and that can get too aggressive. I like to go up high. I shake the spices off my hands. That’s the best way, because it floats down in the air and gives a very even distribution. 5 Use moisture. I use just a bit of oil so when you season the meat, it sticks. You could also use hot sauce, a good barbecue sauce or even just plain water.
◆◆ Lemon juice from 2 lemons ◆◆ ¼ cup gochujang ◆◆ ¼ cup honey ◆◆ 1 tbsp sesame oil ◆◆ ¼ cup fish sauce
Photography by Suresh Doss, Shutterstock
◆◆ ¼ cup soy sauce ◆◆ ¼ cup rice vinegar ◆◆ ¼ cup mirin
Bring the ingredients together in a pot and simmer on low heat. Cook uncovered for around an hour, until it reduces to about a third of what you started with. Chill and serve. Makes around 3 cups of sauce.
W IT H RAC QU E L YOUTZY Sides are a crucial element to any barbecue spread. The Texas-inspired AAA Bar serves a wide assortment of them, some traditional and some not. Coowner Racquel Youtzy takes us through her side-dish all-stars.
This is a staple. Anywhere you go in Texas that has barbecue, they’ll have coleslaw. It’s the whole palatecleansing thing. Ours is both creamy and vinegary.
2 Mac and cheese
THE BEST CHICKEN EVER
We use four different types of cheese: housesmoked cheddar, Kraft singles, Parmesan and mozzarella. Plus butter.
With Adam Skelly
NORTH YORK’S ADAMSON Barbecue draws winding lineups for its superlative Texasstyle brisket, ribs and sausage. But while the chicken doesn’t get as much attention, it’s some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the city. Co-owner Adam Skelly reveals his secrets for ridiculously good poultry. 1 Brine it. We leave our chicken in pickle juice for 7 to 10 days. It’s just leftover pickle juice from our dill pickles, with a bit of salt added. If you don’t have a ton of pickle juice sitting around, you can dilute it with water. 2 Dry it. Pat the chicken dry and leave it in the fridge uncovered overnight. This allows the skin to get crispy. 3 Rub it. We use a little bit of salt and pepper. 4 Cook it. Our chicken takes around an hour and a quarter in the smoker. The skin should get a nice colour on it. 5 Glaze it. We take the chicken out and cover it with Frank’s RedHot, butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and a little bit of ketchup. 6 Cook it again. Until the glaze gets nice and shiny and the brown meat is cooked through. Let it rest before serving it.
We use Mrs. Whyte’s, which are vinegary, not sweet. We taste-tested a bunch of pickles and these are the ones we liked.
Our baked beans are cooked with maple syrup and a little bit of bourbon. A lot of our menu is savoury, so the sweet beans help break that up a bit.
5 Brussels sprouts
We deep-fry our sprouts so they’re delicious. They’re better than French fries, which sounds crazy, but it’s true.
6 White bread
If you go to a Texas barbecue place, they will give you a half a loaf of white bread. You can take that bread and make a little sandwich with whatever you’re eating.
EVERY TEXAS BARBECUE SPOT HAS COLESLAW
KNOW YOUR CUTS With Leila Batten LEILA BATTEN, OWNER of Whitehouse Meats St. Lawrence Market, says any piece of meat can be good if it’s cooked properly according to the cut. Herewith, she takes us through some of the most common barbecue cuts and shares tips for preparation.
Brisket Do you want fatty and flavourful, or lean and dry? Look for the “double end” of the brisket, which is the fattier end. You need to rub brisket and give it a day or two to let the rub sink in. Let it come to room temperature before you cook it low and slow for hours.
Beef ribs Rub away and cook low and slow. They can be very tender if you cook them properly. You might not find beef back ribs at the supermarket, but any good butcher shop should have them.
ALL MEAT CAN BE DELICIOUS IF PREPARED PROPERLY Pork ribs
Photography by Suresh Doss, Shutterstock
The side rib is not as tender as a back rib, therefore you have to cook it longer and slower. In the end, you can make both of them taste exactly the same, you just have to treat them differently. There are two schools of thought on the silver skin; I like to leave it on, but a lot of people like to take it off.
Pork shoulder Shoulder (otherwise known as Boston butt) is what you’ll use for pulled pork. Rub it, let it sit, bring it to room temperature and cook it. You can use more powerful spices with pork – such as smoked paprika – because the flavours of pork are easier to manipulate. Spices will permeate pork more than beef.
WOOD 101 With Darryl Koster COOKING WITH WOOD is the first step toward authentic, deeply flavourful barbecue. There are many options to choose from, so we had Darryl Koster from Buster Rhino’s Southern BBQ break things down for us. Some key points to keep in mind: use wood that has been aged for at least six months, and try to use bigger logs – with the bark removed – whenever possible.
Maple Not too light and not too heavy. You can do long term smokes with it, and it’s good with any kind of meat. If you’re using maple that is heavy with syrup, you can get a serious maple syrup flavour added to your meat. It lends a beautiful smoky, sugary-sweet flavour.
Oak A classic smoke for barbecue. When you hear about Texas barbecue, generally they’re using post oak. The older the oak the better. It adds a smooth, mellow, buttery flavour, and it’s not overpowering. Even novices to barbecue can easily tell the flavour difference.
Apple Very prevalent in Ontario, but apple should be used sparingly. It should never be used for a long-term smoke – it can be very acrid.
IF YOU USE MAPLE WOOD THAT IS HEAVY WITH SYRUP, YOU’LL GET A BEAUTIFUL SWEET FLAVOUR Apple can be either a finishing wood, or used on chicken or fish at the very beginning.
Cherry This is a strong but awesome wood. It has a really good flavour without being acrid. I’m not against cherry for a long-term smoke, but it is a very smoky smoke. Fruit woods can add flavours to your food according to their corresponding fruits.
Mesquite An oily wood, and very strong. It’s one of the three granddaddy barbecue woods along with hickory and pecan. It’s one you hear a lot about down south. It has a very distinct, very sharp flavour. Mesquite is great as long as you know what you’re doing. A lot of what is sold as mesquite is not actually mesquite – so buy it from a reputable source.
Hickory This is the one wood that everybody knows about. You always hear hickory-smoked this, hickory-smoked that. And it’s a beautiful wood to smoke with. It works with everything, but it can be overpowering. Good hickory is hard to find here in Canada.
Nobody knows about pecan, but everyone knows the smell. It’s the smoke that is used to do smoked chipotle peppers or jalapenos. It’s a beautiful, mellow wood, a gorgeous piece of wood to smoke with. If I could smoke with pecan at my restaurants all the time, I would, but I can’t get enough up here. f
Photograph by Shutterstock
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Jessica Dawdy puts together a food loverâ€™s guide to navigating Ontarioâ€™s music festival circuit this season
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WAYHOME The scene Heading into its third year, WayHome is well on its way toward establishing itself as our own north-of-the-border Coachella with its strong music lineups, excellent production value and chill vibes. This year’s headliners include Frank Ocean, the Shins, Constantines and Flume. Add in some cool art installations, plus great nosh, and this festival is a full-on experience for the senses. Early 20-somethings make up much of the crowd, but the festival’s friendly, relaxed atmosphere ensures that attendees who don’t fit the standard profile aren’t likely to feel out of place. Camping on-site is a popular choice, and you can even book a pre-pitched tent (just in case you like the idea of camping but have no clue what you’re doing).
The food and drink WayHome’s food lineup is practically a mini-event on its own, with the last two years seeing well-known Toronto names like Chimney Stax Baking Co. and Rose and Sons serving up creative takes on traditional festival fare. This year’s roster of around 50 vendors features many returning faves, including Buster’s Sea Cove and JP’s Barbecue. According to the festival’s creative director, Ryan Howes, there will be a greater variety of vegetarian and vegan options this year, along with more late-night snack choices. It might even be enough to make you ditch your pre-packed sandwich.
RIGHT: Last year, the Food Dudes brought their famous deep-fried mac and cheese balls with spicy tomato sauce to the WayHome festival
WAYHOME’S FOOD LINEUP IS BASICALLY A MINI-EVENT ON ITS OWN 44
THE DETAILS When: July 28-30 Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont. How Much: $250
Oro-Medonte is just over a two hours’ drive from Toronto. The festival’s hotel and admission ticket package includes shuttle service between Horseshoe Resort in Barrie and the festival grounds, and several companies offer private shuttle buses from Toronto. For more information, visit wayhome.com
HILLSIDE The scene With its intimate, eco-conscious vibes, Hillside channels the earthy, peaceful feel of old school music festivals. Although unlike, say, Woodstock, Hillside is kid-friendly, attracting a good-natured mix of bohemians, hipsters, families and long-time devotees. Hillside has a reputation for showcasing some of Canada’s top up-and-coming performers, with this year’s line-up including Charlotte Day Wilson, Coeur de Pirate and Begonia. Hosted at the Guelph Lake Conservation area, Hillside’s attention to ecofriendly initiatives sets it apart from other camp-out music fests. Organized shuttle buses and bike rides encourage attendees to carpool or cycle to the festival, while the main stage has a green roof designed to compensate for the natural space it occupies.
The food and drink Hillside’s food choices show some serious sophistication. Over 20 vendors from across southern Ontario will be serving up cuisines ranging from Polish to Ethiopian. Expect plenty of options for special diets, including ethical omnivore eats, raw foods and vegan dishes. True to its green leanings, Hillside also replaces the standard plastic cutlery and
Styrofoam plates with reusable dishware, which will be washed and restocked by volunteers throughout the weekend. Food highlights include the Flying Chestnut Kitchen – an Ojibwa restaurant that will be offering chili served on bannock – and Wafel Bar, which will be putting out crispy Belgian waffles with spiced maple syrup. Ontario’s craft beers are well represented, with Four Fathers, Collective Arts and Wellington Brewery among the choices on tap. There will be lots of non-boozy beverages as well, including milkshakes, teas and smoothies. ChocoSol will also be serving coffee made from beans ground on-site by pedal power, along with hot and cold chocolate-based beverages.
THE DETAILS When: July 14-16 Where: Guelph Lake Conservation Area How Much: $139
Guelph Lake Conservation Area is about a two-hour drive from Toronto. The festival is offering shuttle bus service to and from Toronto for $20 round-trip, leaving from Dufferin Mall on Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning. For more information, visit hillsidefestival.ca
RIGHT: Chocolate purveyor ChocoSol will be serving coffe ground on-site by pedal power
THE DETAILS When: August 10-13 Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont. How Much: $250
Oro-Medonte is just over two hours from Toronto. The festival’s hotel and admission ticket package includes shuttle service between Horseshoe Resort in Barrie and the festival grounds, and several companies offer shuttle buses from Toronto. LEFT: Hank Daddy’s BBQ makes regular appearances at Boots and Hearts
BOOTS AND HEARTS The scene Now in its fifth year, Boots and Hearts is the largest country music festival in Canada. Think of it as country music’s answer to WayHome – it’s even held on the same site and organized by the same team. Country music fans tend to come in a wide range of ages, and the crowd at Boots and Hearts is no exception. Headliners at this year’s festival include Luke Bryan and Keith Urban, along with numerous Canadian country performers such as Jess Moskaluke and Chad Brownlee. As with WayHome, camping is a big part of the experience for many attendees, but in addition to tent camping, there are also options to upgrade to an RV or stay in a nearby hotel.
The food and drink Boots and Hearts leans toward the more traditional end of the festival fare spectrum, with its vendors providing mostly quick, approachable eats. The food truck roster is usually extensive: last year’s participants included Hank Daddy’s BBQ and Chachachurros. This year, Gangster Cheese will be serving up ooey-gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, while Gourmet Gringos will provide Mexican grub like burritos and tacos. A Canadian festival classic, BeaverTails, will be churning out its sugar-covered ovals of fried dough, and we have been assured that bloomin’ onions will be prevalent. The drink options are shaping up to be equally accessible, with Coors Light leading the roster of vendors, plus plenty of stalls doling out coffee to fuel the festivities. There will be a handful of lighter options as well, but indulgence seems to be the name of the game with this food lineup.
Photography supplied by WayHome, Hillside, Boots and Hearts, Big Feastival
THE LARGEST COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL IN CANADA APPEALS TO A WIDE RANGE OF AGE GROUPS
For more information, visit bootsandhearts.com
THE BIG FEASTIVAL The scene The Big Feastival nabs the title of this summer’s most wholesome music festival, offering both family-friendly fun and healthy eats. Originally launched in the U.K. by Jamie Oliver, the festival’s theme will come as no surprise to those familiar with Oliver’s advocacy for farm-to-fork fare. Food and music share the spotlight at this event, with bands such as Weezer, Dragonette and Ben Harper starring on the main music stage and celebrity chefs like Michael Hunter and Rob Gentile headlining the main food stage. With kiddie entertainers like Fred Penner and Splash’N Boots also on the roster, expect to see lots of parents with little ones rather than the usual festival crowd.
The food lineup is all about good-for-you eats, with the promise that you won’t spot a pre-made morsel or sugary snack on the festival grounds. Participating food trucks
YOU WON’T FIND ANY PRE-MADE FOOD ON THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS 48
ABOVE: The Big Feastival’s food purveyors will be wide-ranging, from celeb chefs to small vendors
THE DETAILS When: August 18-20 Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte, Ont. How Much: $175
Oro-Medonte is about a two-anda-half hour drive from Toronto, between Orillia and Barrie. Sharethebus offers round-trip transportation from Toronto, with two buses departing from the Rogers Centre each day of the festival. For more information, visit canada.thebigfeastival.com
Photography supplied by WayHome, Hillside, Boots and Hearts, Big Feastival
The food and drink
and stalls have been chosen based on their commitment to organic, locally sourced ingredients and, in keeping with the festival’s family-friendly mandate, they will also be serving up kid-sized portions of their dishes. The parade of vendors marches on with the drink lineup, which includes such wineries as Rosehall Run and Jacob’s Creek, along with non-alcoholic thirstquenchers like Green Machine Smoothies from Hamilton and Just Craft Soda from St. Catharines. If you’re feeling fancy, Kinsip House of Fine Spirits will be making handcrafted cocktails on-site. The beer branches beyond provincial boundaries with options such as Belgian Moon. But eating at this festival goes beyond just stuffing your face. Chuck Hughes is leading a pack of notable chefs slated to perform cooking demos, and there will also be a market where you can pick up take-home nibbles such as honey, fudge and jam (again, all organic and local). f
“ I LOVE DINING IN THIS CITY. THERE IS MORE GOING ON HERE THAN EVER BEFORE ” Suresh Doss sits down with boundary-pushing food entrepreneur Franco Stalteri to discuss the past, present and future of dining out in Toronto LEAD PHOTOGRAPH BY KAILEE MANDEL
UR CITY’S CULINARY scene has blossomed exponentially in the last nine years. While Toronto was once known for its take-no-risks approach to food, it has since evolved into a world-class dining destination. Franco Stalteri has witnessed this revolution first-hand – not as a restaurateur, but as owner and operator of the city’s longstanding Charlie’s Burgers supper club series. Since 2009, Stalteri has hosted top chefs from Toronto and around the world in a series of underground dinners held throughout the city and abroad. With over 50 dinners under his belt, Stalteri has had a conductor’s viewpoint of Toronto’s maturation over the years. I sat down with him recently at Café Boulud to chat about how far we’ve come as a city of food aficionados, and what the journey forward might look like. The road to Charlie Burger’s was an interesting one for you. Very much so. I was born and raised in Toronto, but spent a lot of time in my youth working in France at my aunt’s restaurant in Le Mans. Those culinary building blocks were quickly in place when I was in my early teens. I quickly gained an understanding of the way the industry worked and the people in it. You wanted to be a chef? No, not really. I went to university and then travelled for a bit. I became a headhunter in the restaurant industry. I was recruiting talent for luxury and fine dining properties in
North America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. I would spend eight hours a day talking to chefs, five days a week. From the Daniel Bouluds to the Wolfgang Pucks, I got to know all these chef personalities. This was in the mid-2000s, and the culinary scene was much different back then. How so? There were innovative concepts for sure, but generally speaking there was a mould and everyone would fit in it. Restaurateurs and chefs were playing it safe for the most part. Once in a while I would work with a restaurant that was experimenting with their food and service program and trying something new. But for every restaurant or chef that was forward thinking, there would be nine others that were risk averse. It was around then, in the mid-2000s, that we started to see the shift in dining as chefs slowly ventured out into new territory. Towards the late 2000s I found myself having regular conversations with chefs in which they would tell me that they’re itching to try something different. The Internet and social media obviously opened up a gateway to more information and access. A lot of chefs wanted freedom. I found myself in the middle of these conversations, trying to determine if there was something I could do. What if I could galvanize these chefs?
RIGHT: Charlie’s Burgers collaborated with chefs Rob Gentile and Mark McEwan for a supper club dinner at the Free Society production studio
OUR FORMAT MEANT THAT DINERS WERE GOING TO EXPERIENCE SOMETHING NEW EVERY SINGLE TIME it was pre-social media, there were less distractions. You can feel that Toronto was going through some changes. I used to live near the Ossington strip. I remember how bare it was, and then quickly Pizzeria Libretto and Reposado set up. Everything changed quickly. So what was the turning point for your career as a headhunter? The financial downturn was the turning point. Suddenly I had more free time to invest in a hobby. I had a conversation with chef Marco Zandona [of the long-standing Via Allegro] about doing something outside of his restaurant. This was in early 2009 now, and that’s when we hosted the first Charlie’s Burgers dinner for 18 guests.
Photography by the McEwan Group
But you didn’t want to open a restaurant? Ha! No, definitely not. After spending so much time with people in the industry, the more you know, the scarier it gets. It’s a very tough landscape, and even if you get everything right, you still need a considerable amount of luck to succeed. At the time we were already hosting supper clubs with friends. We’d hire a Toronto chef, start an email chain and have regular dinners where the chef would be able to cook whatever he or she wanted to cook. I wanted to see if we would be able to bring that concept to the masses. What was Toronto dining like at the time? So this was 2008. We were a very multicultural city but the neighbourhoods
were too spread out. But it was a turning point. You started to see the emergence of a young group of chefs that wanted to break the mould. Restaurants like Lucien, the Black Hoof, the Harbord Room and Habitat. The class of 2008 is fascinating to me because you had a group of young cooks that still had the work ethic instilled in them by the previous generation of chefs like Mark McEwan, Chris McDonald, Claudio Aprile and Marc Thuet, but they all wanted to explore cuisine beyond classic techniques. Lots of those chefs cut their teeth at Centro. Centro was the place for mentoring and breeding the next generation of chef at the time. I think there was also less of an influence from the Food Network, and since
I remember when people first found out about it. You were purposely vague about the menu, the price. We put together a website very quickly. We weren’t trying to be vague, we just didn’t have the resources. Initially word started to spread through the industry about the dinner. Then all of a sudden the public found out. My impression back then was that you were creating a supper club road show. The location changed every time, and the location was always a secret. It wasn’t a secret on purpose. We noticed that if we announced the address, people would show up at the door trying to get in. So we kept it a secret so we could better manage it. Word was spreading throughout the city →
BY 2008, YOU STARTED TO SEE YOUNG CHEFS THAT WANTED TO BREAK THE MOULD → and we were just trying to keep up with it. What was it about CB that attracted diners from all corners of Toronto? It was the ethos of creativity. At first it was industry support. At the time chefs were hungry to collaborate with each other, and we met a lot of diners that were craving something different in Toronto. Our format meant that they were going to experience something new every single time. Were you able to predict what would happen in the next 12 months? Definitely not. I remember for our spring dinner we worked with Au Pied de Cochon and that was a blast. Chefs were coming to the dinners as diners, and they would all start to volunteer themselves as chefs for future dinners. Then Food & Wine listed us in their top 100 best new food and drink experiences in May 2010. That was the turning point. This was before the height of social media. It was all through word of mouth and emails and the press. In a way that’s a good thing. When social media started to take off, we accepted that we couldn’t enforce our no-photos policy. That was a real shift and an acceptance of the modern-day diner. Everyone was taking photos. Charlie’s Burgers wasn’t just about local chefs – you also had a global vision. In all my travels, I’ve seen the talent that exists in the industry around the world. Our goal was to try and showcase that talent, whether it’s doing a pop-up in the U.K. with Fergus Henderson, or to bring in chefs →
RIGHT: Charlie’s Burgers gives chefs creative freedom to venture outside their comfort zones
Photography by The McEwan Group
RIGHT: Chefs Rob Gentile and Mark McEwan highlighted Canadian ingredients
→ from New York. The goal was to continue giving our diners a unique experience. How do you think Charlie’s Burgers has contributed to the dining scene? I think at the very least we’ve celebrated the conviviality of the hospitality industry. Many chefs gave birth to concepts from our dinners, and they have met other chefs or partners with whom they’ve moved on to create wonderful restaurants around the city.
What is it like to eat out in Toronto in 2017? I love dining in the city right now. Trips to New York and London are less exciting,
What about our culinary identity? We’re also cultivating our own identity
EATING IN TORONTO IS EXCITING BECAUSE WE HAVE IT ALL HERE
instead of always following in other’s footsteps. We are truly a multicultural dining city now, more so than we were 10 years ago. Diners are more receptive to experiences. You can spend money at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse or at Alo. The level of enjoyment is no longer tied to high-end dining. But we do still tend to copy trends. That will always exist. I think there’s room for those fun gimmick restaurants, as long as they’re well executed. You’ve been vocal about where we need to go next as a dining capital. Culinary tourism really needs to help with the void here. We are also not great at singing our own praise. It’s very Canadian to not be loud or share your accomplishments and accolades. That needs to change. I have travelled all over the world and I think we have great talent here. We need to share that if we want this industry to move forward. f
Photography by the McEwan Group
How are these restaurants different from what we’ve had in Toronto before? There really is a sense of maturation, a coming of age. You look at La Banane, Bar Raval, Grey Gardens. We went from 40-seat restaurants created with less than $150,000 to more complex and finer concepts.
because there’s more happening here than ever before. Eating in Toronto is very exciting because we have it all here. We just need the rest of the world to understand it.
CATCHING A BUZZ Sai Sumar looks into Torontoâ€™s growing contingent of urban beekeepers and the terroir of our local honey PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDRO PEHAR
Photograph by ###
RIGHT: Honeybees have furry bodies, which makes them extremely efficient pollinators
IVIAN1 AND HER husband reside in Cabbagetown with their two Cornish Rex cats and, atop their handsome rooftop, two urban beehives, one governed by Queen Phoebe II and the other by Queen Flavia. Phoebe runs a peculiar ship, building wax in odd places and laying eggs sporadically around the hive. Flavia, on the other hand, is an overachiever. She organizes her hive as if it were a diagram in a honeybee textbook: she fills the centre with eggs, and each stage of the next generation is kept separate: larvae in one area, pupae in another. For all the Friends fans out there: think of Phoebe as, well, Phoebe – buzzing to her own beat – and Flavia as methodical Monica. It’s the end of April and I’m touring residential beehives in the city with Madison Weir, a beekeeper with Alvéole, an initiative that sets up and maintains hives around Toronto and Montreal. The weather is finally warming up, making it safe to open and inspect the hives after a
drawn-out winter (honeybees don’t leave their hive when it’s below 13 C). Vivian has always wanted to host bees, so when Alvéole expanded to Toronto last year from Montreal, she adopted two hives with their help. Weir and Vivian approach the wooden hives, which each contain 10 frames that mimic honeycomb. They carefully remove the roof. The frames drip with bees as they lift them out one by one. Both colonies look strong and on track; everyone is doing their job. As the hives rest beside each other, the royal guards make sure no one enters the wrong colony. Today, Phoebe is nowhere to be seen. We settle for a glimpse of Flavia and knowing that the hives remain healthy as spring turns to summer. Weir and I drive a few streets further east to visit another urban beekeeper, David1, whose “lovely and curious” colony sits on his patio. His bees are less animated than Vivian’s. The shade makes for a chilly patio, and the cold-blooded bees aren’t in the mood for a frigid flight. “Hello, ladies!” David says as he greets the
fascinated few who purr around his beard. You see, worker bees are all sterile females, while drones – fertile male bees – are currently being laid in eggs around the hive. It’s a draconian matriarchy: stingerless drones have short life spans filled with chasing virgin queens. Those who manage
WITHOUT BEES, MANY WILD PLANTS WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO REPRODUCE
to mate mid-air will then naturally die, and those who don’t will return to the hive. But once the temperature starts to drop, drones still left in the colony are kicked out to conserve honey and will eventually die. Urban beekeeping is on the rise in Toronto, in part as a reaction to declining bee populations worldwide. It’s a form of animal husbandry, like deciding to adopt a herd of cows, but smaller. And honeybees are the only bee species that can be monitored and maintained. It takes time, effort and money, so Alvéole allows people to enjoy bees without being solely responsible for them. Many flying insects, like moths and butterflies – along with hummingbirds, too – fall under the category of pollinators. But bees hold the title of MVP: most valuable pollinator. Honeybees have stout, fluffy bodies that collect extra pollen, and they’ll often visit the same type of flora during their flights, leading to more efficient pollination. One-third of the world’s agriculture depends on pollinators to reproduce, and 80 per cent of that responsibility falls on the shoulders of bees. Without them, many wild plants wouldn’t be able to reproduce, causing them to die off and further endanger the surrounding wildlife. And for the first time in history, bees are landing on endangered species lists: they’re losing their habitat and being killed off by pesticides and disease. In 2016, Toronto was dubbed Canada’s first “Bee City” as part of Bee City Canada, a program designed to protect all pollinators. The City of Toronto created a resolution to make the city’s green spaces more pollinatorfriendly by planting perennials, maintaining native flower plants and keeping the city’s public spaces insecticide free. There are 800 bee species in Canada, and Toronto’s urban lakeside landscape attracts almost 50 per cent of them. Along with being warmer than other Canadian cities, Toronto’s diverse flora, ample green spaces, ravines and proximity to the lake make it desirable real estate for native bees. These factors also make for uniquely delicious honey. Unlike the predictable taste of commercial honey, the intricate flavours of small-batch honey derive from the surroundings. Like wine, honey has its own terroir, and the taste and texture develop with the season. Spring honey in Toronto is made from dandelions and early tree blossoms, such as cherry, apple and pear. It’s delicate and floral. With summer comes the linden flower, which gives honey a minty aroma. Enough of it will produce a eucalyptus-like flavour. Summer
BEES ARE BEING KILLED OFF BY PESTICIDES AND DISEASE
honey can also be citrusy: last summer, Alvéole’s Leslieville hives produced a honey with hints of grapefruit. As cool winds blow and autumn approaches, goldenrod and asters flood the city, creating a bold and earthy honey with a savoury, cheddar cheese aroma. Some even compare the scent to old socks, but in the most doting way possible. Last year’s batch of Alvéole’s Downtown honey – made by bees that forage on the Toronto Islands – looks darker than typical summer honey and crystallizes faster (courtesy of goldenrod). It tastes vegetal with traces of nutmeg and cinnamon, mimicking the flavours that will embody honey throughout the city as the goldenrod spreads northward. Alvéole sells its honey online and at its honey house (located near Dupont Street and Dufferin Street) every Saturday. In addition to residential sites, some of Alvéole’s 80 hives are set up at Toronto landmarks, including the Shangri-La Hotel, which partnered with Alvéole and Canadian jewellery purveyor Maison Birks to welcome a queen bee for a second season. Last session, the hive produced 85 kg of honey, which was used in the hotel’s amenities and at its restaurant, Bosk. This year, Shangri-La is working with Flying Monkeys Brewery to create a honey lager. →
LEFT: The Shangri-La's urban hive, which hosts 50,000 bees, is located on the third-floor terrace
→ A hive filled with 50,000 bees shares the third-floor terrace with a private events space and guests at Momofuku, but the flying insects go unnoticed. Unlike carnivorous wasps, bees are vegetarians, so they’d have no interest in David Chang’s famous pork buns. The bees have one mission: to collect pollen and nectar to feed the hive. Gillian Leitch, Bee City Canada’s program director, became a beekeeper in 2006 as a response to Colony Collapse Disorder, in which worker bees strangely disappear, leaving an abandoned queen. She wanted to help save the bees. But knowing what she knows now, she wouldn’t necessarily recommend the same path for others. She’s worried about an oversaturation of honeybees competing with native bees for the same resources. Instead, Leitch advocates for pollinator gardens. “We need to be less tidy with gardens, less manicured,” she says. Seventy per cent of native bees nest in the ground, so she suggests leaving 10 per cent of your garden untouched. Dry patches of soil can be good. An ideal garden would also have a variety of trees, shrubs and grasses, and something blooming each season. “And sometimes the best thing you can do is just go out and watch the bees,” says Leitch. Morningside Park, Lambton Park and Tommy Thompson Park are all bee-watching
hot spots (keep an eye out for perfect holes in leaves made by leaf-cutter bees). Leitch manages hives around city, including the one on top of the Big Carrot, a natural food market on the Danforth. But her favourite honey comes from her friend’s beehive up by St. Clair Avenue. “You could taste the elderberry bushes,” she says. Sometimes honeybee colonies end up where they’re not wanted, and that’s when the fearless Peter Chorabik, founder of
LIKE WINE, HONEY HAS ITS OWN TERROIR, AND THE TASTE DEVELOPS SEASONALLY
Toronto Bee Rescue, steps in. He retrieves colonies from around the city and relocates them to areas where they can thrive. Honeybees have always been a part of his life: his father kept them with his father. But when varroa mites – a prevailing cause of bee mortality – made their way into Canada in the late 1980s, his father’s desire to keep bees waned. So Chorabik stepped in. Not only does he help save colonies from being destroyed, he harvests honey too – sold online through his wife’s company, Ontario Honey Creations – and he also turns the liquid gold into honey vinegar using traditional small-batch fermentation. Pests and diseases continue to plague Toronto, and it’s hard to find two beekeepers who agree on proper pest management. Some don’t believe in any treatment at all. But in this field, it’s not to each their own. Bees have a five-kilometre range when they gather food, so it’s guaranteed that bees from multiple hives will cross paths, and it’s easy for a disease to transmit from one bee to another. And the playing fields for hobbyists and professionals are vastly different. “I don’t feed my family if my bees die or don’t produce honey,” says Chorabik. Some remember their first sting. While bees are docile by nature, they’ll get defensive if they feel threatened. But as with their human counterparts, you can’t judge an entire species by a single bee that might have been having a bad day. I, however, remember the first time a bee sat on me. It was one of the girls from David’s hive. I named her Princess Peach. “She’s a very attractive bee,” David said as Peach found warmth under the gap in my sleeve. “Oh this is cute,” he said. “She’s sitting there with her paw over her eyes.” And then it happened. I watched as something started coming out of her. I knew it: she was going to sting me. “Is she about to…” I began to ask, before realizing what was actually happening. “Is she shitting on me?” Neither David nor Weir had never seen this happen before. They were in awe, as if a baby was taking her first steps. It’s not hard to fall in love with bees when you meet the right one. So, Toronto, honey, please don’t kill the bees. We need them. f 1
Last name withheld
COCKTAIL HOUR We’ve scoured Toronto’s bar scene for the freshest mixed drinks – check out some of our favourites
RHUBARB STREISAND DaiLo; 503 College St. For more info: dailoto.com
INGREDIENTS Cocktail ◆◆ 2 oz Lot No. 40 whisky ◆◆
oz yellow Chartreuse
◆◆ 1 oz rhubarb Szechuan pepper
honey (see below) oz lemon juice ◆◆ Soda water ◆◆ Lemon zest and mint, for garnish ◆◆
Syrup ◆◆ 10 g Szechuan peppercorn ◆◆ 50 g blanched almonds ◆◆ 2 kg rhubarb ◆◆ 1 kg honey ◆◆ 200 g water
Toast peppercorn and almonds. Add remaining syrup ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain. Shake first four cocktail ingredients and pour into a Collins glass. Top with soda, garnish with some mint and lemon zest.
BITTER MONK Montecito; 299 Adelaide St. W. For more info: montecitorestaurant.com
ING REDIENTS ◆◆ 1 oz Crown Royal ◆◆
oz yellow Chartreuse
◆◆ 1/3 oz Bénédictine ◆◆
oz Amaro dell’Erborista
◆◆ Dash of Angostura bitters ◆◆ Lemon twist, for garnish
Pour the first four ingredients over ice in a shaker. Stir until the outside of the vessel is frosty and starting to show condensation. Strain into a rocks glass over a large cube of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.
Photograph by ###
THE TORONTO COCKTAIL Figures; 137 Avenue Rd. For more info: figuresto.com
I N GREDIENTS ◆◆ 2 oz J.P. Wiser’s Double Still rye
oz Fernet-Branca oz simple syrup ◆◆ Dash of orange bitters ◆◆ ◆◆
In a mixing glass, add the bitters, simple syrup, Fernet-Branca and lastly, the J.P. Wiser’s Double Still rye. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a single ice cube.
CIRCUS CIRCUS Lbs.; 100 Yonge St. For more info: lbstoronto.com
IN G R ED IEN TS ◆◆ 2 oz Lot No. 40 whisky ◆◆ ◆◆
oz Averna oz lemon cordial
◆◆ Lemon zest, for garnish
Add ingredients into a chilled mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain, pour into a martini glass and garnish with lemon zest.
THE HUNTER Antler; 1454 Dundas St. W. For more info: antlerkitchenbar.com
ING REDIENTS ◆◆ 1
oz Wild Turkey bourbon oz Heering cherry liqueur ◆◆ oz Disaronno Amaretto ◆◆ 3 dashes cherry bitters ◆◆ Bourbon-soaked cherry, for garnish ◆◆
Place all ingredients into a shaker and pack with ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds and fine-strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a bourbon-soaked cherry.
Photograph by ###
For its 30th anniversary, Air Transat joins forces with renowned Quebec chef Daniel Vézina to launch the Chef’s Menu, a seasonally inspired in-flight dining experience
LEFT AND ABOVE: Chef Daniel Vézina’s menu includes refined dishes such as sweet potato gnocchi, chicken ragout and duck confit lasagna
OR ITS 30TH anniversary, Canada’s leading holiday travel airline, Air Transat, enhances its premium dining experience with the new Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina. The world’s best airlines are finding innovative ways to make in-flight dining a memorable experience. Air Transat – which has been named Best North American Leisure Airline by Skytrax for five years running – accomplishes this with its brand new partnership with celebrated Quebec chef Daniel Vézina. The Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina is a high-end, seasonal dining program featuring delicious recipes that draw from chef Vézina’s 30 years of experience. As the co-owner of the Laurie Raphaël restaurants in Quebec City and Montreal, chef Vézina is a leader in Quebec’s culinary scene. He also launched his own health food counter, La Serre, last May. In its debut season, the Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina features thoughtfully
prepared dishes such as duck confit lasagna with spinach and a sherry-andfoie gras emulsion, as well as braised lamb with maple syrup and Indian vegetable curry. There are also excellent vegan and vegetarian options available, such as sweet potato gnocchi with Bolognese, pesto and Parmesan. All dishes will be served with a cheese plate, dessert and a glass of wine, and selections will be updated seasonally, with the next menu scheduled for the fall of 2017. The Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina will be complimentary to Club Class passengers on all flights before 10 p.m. It’s just one of the many ways that Air Transat is bringing its Club Class members a premium on-board experience, along with larger reclining seats, pillows and other amenities. The Chef’s Menu is also available to Economy Class passengers for $25 in limited quantities on transatlantic flights. As of July 1, the Chef’s Menu
will be available for Economy Class passengers flying to the Caribbean. To learn more about the Chef’s Menu, head to www.airtransat.com. You can pre-order your meal at Air Transat’s website or by calling the booking centre at 1-877-872-6728. ●
FINE DINING TAKES TO THE SKY Want to taste chef Daniel Vézina’s menu on your next Air Transat flight? Club Class passengers can enjoy any selection from the Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina at no extra cost on their next journey. Flying Economy Class? There are limited quantities of Chef’s Menu dishes available for $25. To pre-order your premium meal from the Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina, go to www.airtransat.com.
WE HAVE A WINNER
Foodism Toronto is excited to announce the delicious results of the first annual Graffigna Steak Awards
ARLIER THIS YEAR we gathered four discerning judges to launch our first annual Graffigna Steak Awards. And after much deliberation, the results are in. For an overall steak experience that is unmatched in Toronto, Jacob’s & Co. takes first place. The judges were thoroughly impressed with chef Danny McCallum – who curates the best steak menu in the country – along with the restaurant’s ultra-smooth service. Our print editor Suresh Doss was joined by some of the city’s most diehard steak lovers: Natalia Manzocco (Now Magazine), Peter Sanagan (Sanagan’s Meat Locker) and chef Michael Hunter (Antler Kitchen & Bar) to seek out the city’s best steaks. While Jacob’s was a standout, the
journey was paved with an assortment of memorable experiences. Barberian’s shone for its service: after nearly 60 years, the restaurant manages to preserve a rare old school approach to hospitality. The best value was found at Farmhouse Tavern, where the steak is both delicious and a steal. For those seeking out peoplewatching and libations to go with their rib-eye, STK does a great job of bringing that sexy Miami ambiance to Toronto. A trip to a good steak house is always a worthwhile jaunt. And if there’s one thing we learned from all of this, it’s that we’re really lucky to live in a city that has a full range of steak houses, from ones that take you on a journey through time to those that present an ambiance of pure luxury. ●
WIN WIN AN EXCLUSIVE DINNER AT JACOB’S & CO.
Don’t take our word for it: test-drive the winning steak house. We’re hosting an exclusive dinner with Graffigna at Jacob’s & Co. and we want to give you a seat. For a full list of terms and conditions, and to enter, visit: foodism.to/competition. Follow Graffigna on Facebook and Instagram at: @graffignawine
A FOOD FESTIVAL TO REMEMBER Sample delicious bites and rub elbows with an unbelievable lineup of top chefs at Taste of Toronto, one of the city’s only fine dining-centric food festivals
HERE’S NO SHORTAGE of food festivals in Toronto, whether it’s a cider soiree or a full-on barbecue blowout. But there’s one delicious event that stands out from the summer festival circuit: Taste of Toronto. This unique food event sets itself apart from the crowd through the sheer calibre of chefs in attendance, which will impress even the most discerning of Toronto food enthusiasts. Taste of Toronto’s lineup reads much like a “Best of the City” list. You’d be hard-pressed to find an event in Toronto where over 25 all-star food personalities – including Bar Isabel’s Grant van Gameren, Piano Piano’s Victor Barry and Buca’s Rob Gentile, to name a few – prepare gourmet dishes at one venue. With over 20 restaurants represented, you can indulge in signature bites from old favourites and discover new flavours from hidden gems in the city.
Passionate food lovers will appreciate how Taste of Toronto has elevated the food festival experience. Of note is the Taste Theatre, where attendants can get up close and personal with guest chefs. You won’t want to miss celeb chef and host of the Food Network’s Chopped series Aarón Sánchez. During his evening session on Saturday, June 17, he’ll share his personal tips and tricks during a live food demo. Best of all, programming for the Taste Theatre, as well as the Metro Master Class and many other interactive activities, will be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis with your Taste of Toronto admission. Taste of Toronto takes place at Fort York’s Garrison Common from June 15 to 18, and tickets start at just $17. Visit tasteoftoronto.com to OF TORONTO purchase yours today. ●
TAKE A BITE OUT OF THE CITY Want to indulge in Toronto’s best eats and rub elbows with your favourite food personalities? Over 25 chefs and 20 restaurants will serve up bites at Taste of Toronto. It all happens June 15 to June 18 at Fort York’s Garrison Common. Tickets can be purchased at tasteoftoronto.com.
— PART 3 —
EXCESS “DIM SUM CARTS ARE SEEMINGLY ALWAYS PUSHED AROUND BY THE OLDEST, MOST CANTANKEROUS MEMBERS OF THE WAIT STAFF” THE NOSTALGIST, 091
072 BOURBON AND BEYOND | 080 BOTTLE SERVICE | 088 ESCAPISM 091 NOSTALGIST | 092 THE DIGEST | 094 THE SELECTOR | 098 DECONSTRUCT
BOURBON AND BEYOND For those willing to explore, Kentucky is rife with adventure, history and some of the worldâ€™s best whisky, writes Mark Bylok
ABOVE: Empty barrels soon to be filled with whisky at Castle & Key
KEEP RETURNING TO Kentucky. The state is infectious. It’s not just for the whisky, though there’s plenty of that. It’s for the presence of Kentucky. There’s a rich heritage of horse racing, food and culture that takes time to peel back. Lexington is the smaller of Kentucky’s two main tourism centres – the other being Louisville – and it was my home base for my most recent trip in May. On the surface, Lexington seems a little plain. When travelling, I’m often reminded that we’re very spoiled by the diversity of food and cocktail culture in Toronto. But Lexington is quickly becoming a very cool, very quirky town, not unlike Austin or Portland. The downtown core is rich with theatre, art and plenty of bars that supply entertainment for students from the nearby colleges. There’s a wonderful seedy character to Lexington, and if you’re willing to venture a little outside your comfort zone, you’ll be rewarded with some great experiences. This is especially true in the case of the dive bars. Arcadium, with its old arcade games and vibrant crowd, is not to be missed. The Green Lantern Bar requires some courage to enter: the weathered green door and loud crowd of unfamiliar patrons can be intimidating. Once inside, though, you’ll find yourself at home with cheap drinks, a free pool table and a truly local crowd. Interestingly, both bars allow dogs, so you’ll occasionally see a furry friend in the evening. I’m mesmerized by two restaurants a short cab ride from downtown Lexington. The first is Middle Fork Kitchen Bar. Mark Jensen, →
Photograph by ###
LEXINGTON HAS A WONDERFUL SEEDY CHARACTER TO IT 73
KENTUCKY’S LOVE OF BOURBON AND HORSE RACING ARE TIGHTLY INTERTWINED → executive chef, was a successful food truck operator before opening his first restaurant. The wood-fired grill steals the show as you enter, and it’s the source of many great dishes. Go with the duck breast from the grill, along with the lamb sausages and beef tartare. And don’t miss the bread
boule, which comes with a candle made from delicious brisket fat that melts onto the wooden board it’s served on – you’re going to want to sop up that fat with the bread. Middle Fork is located in Lexington’s own Distillery District, which is a tourist attraction in itself with an ice cream shop and brewery. The second must-visit restaurant is County Club. Years ago, when I first took a cab to the restaurant, the driver refused to let us out because he said the area is dangerous. From what I’ve seen, it’s not. This restaurant immediately invites you in with big broad windows and a young, engaged crowd. County Club is considered a pioneer of modern food trends in Lexington, and on the menu you’ll find Vietnamese fried Brussels sprouts, smoked flank steak and of course, tacos. The beer menu contains rotating taps from local breweries. If you feel inclined for a few post-dinner drinks, one of Lexington’s most famous microbreweries, West Sixth Brewing, is just down the street. This large beer hall is famous for its IPA, and it’s focused on producing
beer sustainably and on giving back to the neighbourhood by working with local nonprofit organizations. I’m sad to say that I’ve not had much luck with barbecue in Kentucky. No matter how authentic some locations look and feel, they’re more in the style of Toronto’s mainstream barbecue joints than anything I’ve had in Kansas City or Austin. Blue Door Smokehouse is the exception, though, and it’s worth the line up. Keeneland racetrack is a draw for horse racing fans and non-fans alike, and it’s a true expression of Kentucky. Seasonal opening weekends rival any sporting event we have in Toronto. The crowd dresses up: you’ll see women in summer dresses and big hats and men with loud ties, funky shirts and shorts. The drinks are expensive and the parking is a pain, but it’s still worth it for the ambiance. Kentucky’s love of bourbon and horse racing happen to be tightly intertwined. In the 1700s and 1800s, merchants loaded up barges with barrels of whisky. They travelled down the Mississippi River selling their goods
ABOVE: Whisky barrels galore at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Once filled, they will rest at a warehouse for at least four years
GETTING THERE It’s a straight nine-hour drive from Toronto. While there are no direct flights to Lexington, most major airlines offer one-stop flights. Or, fly direct to Cincinnati and rent a car for the short drive to Kentucky.
WHERE TO STAY Photography by Mark Bylok, Malicote Photography
21c Museum Hotel is modern and bright, and it has original art on each floor. Rooms start at $270 per night. 167 West Main St. 21cmuseumhotels.com/lexington
GETTING AROUND For distillery tours, you’ll need a car. If travelling with a group, Mint Julep Tours will drive you between destinations outside of Lexington. Uber and cab services are affordable to reach destinations outside of Lexington’s downtown core.
along the way. When they reached New Orleans, the last whisky was sold on Bourbon Street in what is now the French Quarter. These traders, flush with gold, purchased the best horses for their trip back north. The fastest horses, it was believed, gave you better odds of surviving a treacherous path littered with armed robbers. When the surviving merchants reached Kentucky, they sold these proven horses for cheap. Kentucky already held a rich love of dog racing, and horse racing became a new obsession that continues to this day. While there is way more to Kentucky than bourbon, you’d be selling yourself short to not pay at least a little bit of attention to this integral part of the region’s history. And Lexington is close to some of the big distilleries of Kentucky, including Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Wild Turkey. Kentuckians love their bourbons authentic, and they have the laws to prove it. Bourbon, protected federally by the United States, is whisky made primarily of corn (51 per cent), malted barley and usually rye (though sometimes wheat). As is often said in the state of Kentucky, “All bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon.” Like all whiskies, the base ingredients are first fermented to make a beer, and then the resulting beer is distilled. Bourbon may be the most stringently regulated whisky in the world. While most whiskies allow for some additives (even Scotch might get a dab of food colouring), bourbon is not permitted any additives except for water. Distilleries in the region have a history going back to the late 1700s, and many of the distilleries today retain the charm of old Kentucky. This is most exemplified by Castle & Key Distillery, located on the property of Old Taylor Distillery. The distillery dates back to the late 1800s, but it was abandoned in the 1980s when whisky sales slumped. When the property was purchased in 2012, it was completely overgrown with vegetation. On my visit there in May, much of the property had been restored and modernized. It’s expected to open to the public in August.
KENTUCKY LOVES ITS BOURBON AUTHENTIC, AND IT HAS THE LAWS TO PROVE IT The original owner of the distillery was Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr., whose name may not be familiar, but he was partially responsible for passing the first consumer protection act in America: the Bottled-in-Bond Act. Prior to this, less credible whisky makers added iodine – or even tobacco spit – to darken their whisky, because dark whisky was seen as a more premium product. Back then, whisky was often prescribed as medicine, and the protection act was not unlike an assurance of pharmaceutical quality control. Colonel Taylor continues to be viewed as one of America’s biggest whisky influencers for this reason. When building Old Taylor Distillery, Colonel Taylor was loosely inspired by European architecture and the rich experience one might have purchasing brandy in France. That’s the reason for the large impressive castle that’s the main feature of the property. While the castle gives the impression of being a home, inside you’ll find big fermenters and two modest whiskyproducing stills. When I walked the grounds with master distiller Marianne Barnes, it was apparent that she draws inspiration from the storied history of this distillery. In the past, women were deeply involved in making whisky, but Barnes is Kentucky’s first female master distiller since prohibition – and →
ABOVE AND BELOW: Marianne Barnes, master distiller at Castle & Key; Freddie Johnson, local storyteller, historian and tour guide
→ she’s considered a prodigy. She was an employee at Woodford Reserve before taking on a role for Castle & Key. The open fermenters used at the distillery are traditional, allowing for wild yeast to participate in the process. Unfortunately, the distillery only started making whisky in the late summer of 2016, so the whisky won’t be available until at least 2021. Colonel Taylor’s most well-known distillery is Buffalo Trace, which pre-dates
He is a thirdgeneration employee of Buffalo Trace, and he started working at the distillery as a tour guide almost 17 years ago. Tours are free, and they book early. He has many interesting tales to tell, so I recommend asking for his VIP tour. “Unbridled spirit” is Kentucky’s official slogan. It’s a modern state, with patches of counties that have been alcohol-free since before prohibition. The politics can be complex, but you’ll probably find the youth more Canadian in their views than southern. It has a fascinating history and a growing momentum of food trends taking inspiration from other parts of America. Each time I return from Kentucky, I start planning my next trip there – and my next adventure. f
Photograph by Mark Bylok, Malicote Photography
MANY OF THE DISTILLERIES HERE RETAIN THE CHARM OF OLD KENTUCKY
many distilleries in Scotland. At Buffalo Trace you’ll see the authentically industrial side of the bourbonmaking business. Beautiful big warehouses are scattered throughout the property, with piping running along it. In the mornings, a crystalline fog entrenches the foothills on the furthest side. If you get there on the right day, you’ll see new barrels of whisky lazily rolling down an above-ground track to the warehouse. I walked the grounds of Buffalo Trace with Freddie Johnson. While he often goes by the title of tour guide, in truth, he’s a historian and storyteller for the region. “History can be baggage, or it can be an enhancer … it makes you who you are,” Johnson told me.
All-Natural. Craft. Canadian.
NORTHERN SPIRIT Absolut Vodka celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday with the Absolut Canada bottle, a limited edition artwork that reflects our country’s rich heritage and dynamic future
N HONOUR OF Canada’s sesquicentennial, Absolut Vodka is giving Canadians one more reason to toast to our gorgeous country. The limited edition Absolut Canada bottle was created in collaboration with Canadian textile artist Libs Elliott, who is known for her innovative, digitally designed quilts. Elliott uses a computer
program to randomly arrange simple geometric shapes into one-of-a-kind patterns, which she then transforms into handmade quilts the old-fashioned way: by physically cutting and stitching the pattern pieces together. Elliott used this same process to design the Absolut Canada bottle. This merging of modern technology and
traditional craft is a fitting basis for a bottle that pays homage to Canada’s past and future. The bottle design draws on classic Canadian symbols, including a maple leaf quilt block pattern dating back to the early 19th century, while its grid motif reflects our expansive geographical landscape. The bottle’s quilt-like aesthetic, ▶
ABSOLUT SUMMER FLING ◆◆ 1/2 oz Absolut ◆◆ 1 oz watermelon juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz lemon juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz simple syrup ◆◆ Soda
Combine all of the ingredients together in a shaker and shake with ice until chilled. Fine strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a mint leaf and a piece of watermelon on the rim of the glass.
ABSOLUT COTTAGE TEA ◆◆ 1 1/2 oz Absolut ◆◆ 1/2 oz Lot 40 whisky ◆◆ 1/2 oz lemon juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz triple sec ◆◆ Top with homemade iced tea
▶ which brings together many diverse pieces to create a cohesive whole, is an apt metaphor for our country’s culturally diverse landscape. While the bottle may be different, the vodka inside is as pure and natural as ever. Absolut Canada contains the same Swedish vodka as a standard bottle of Absolut, made from natural ingredients without any added sugars. The vodka’s refined flavour makes it a lovely addition to your favourite cocktail, but it’s also smooth enough to be enjoyed straight up. ● Look for the limited edition Absolut Canada bottle at the LCBO and other major retailers across the country. Learn more about the bottle collaboration and check out behindthe-scenes videos at absolut.ca/150.
Build the cocktail in a Collins glass and garnish with lemon wheel.
ABSOLUT MAPLE SOUR ◆◆ 1 1/2 oz Absolut ◆◆ 1 1/2 oz lemon juice ◆◆ 1/2 oz maple syrup ◆◆ 1/2 oz egg whites
Combine all the ingredients together and dry shake, then add ice and shake until chilled. Garnish with a few dashes of Angostura bitters.
Warm weather libations for cottaging, grilling or just generally relaxing PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN FAIST
1 WATERLOO DARK. For those cool summer evenings when you want a kiss of toasted campfire, chestnut and malt. $2.25, lcbo.com 2 OLD TOMORROW TRACK 85. A creamy, bready, easydrinking ale with a slight citrus spritz on the palate. $3, lcbo.com 3 CAMERON’S CAPTAIN’S LOG. Floral on the nose and crisp, fresh and fruity. $3.05, lcbo.com
4 NICKEL BROOK HEAD STOCK IPA. If you want a refreshing IPA that is wonderfully frothy with a lingering taste of citrus and stone fruit, this is it. $3.25, lcbo.com 5 BENCH BREWING BALL’S FALLS IPA. One of the best session IPAs of recent times. A marriage of hops and citrus fruit from nose to last sip. $2.95, lcbo.com 6 AMSTERDAM 2017 HELLES GOLDEN LAGER. Don’t be
surprised if you see this beer when you pop open a friend’s cooler this summer. Refreshing with hints of toasted bread and hay. Bright with every sip. $3.25, lcbo.com 7 RADICAL ROAD SLING SHOT CALIFORNIA COMMON. A crisp and floral beer for those hot summer nights when you’re sitting on a deck with your feet in the water. $2.85, lcbo.com 8 LAKE OF BAYS TOP SHELF VIENNA LAGER. Sometimes you want full flavour and less fuss. This is an easy sipper that teases of burnt caramel and cherry pie. $3.05, lcbo.com
Photograph by ###
1 LOT 40 RYE. The most awarded whisky in Canada may be bargain-priced, but it punches above its weight with notes of candied fruit and pepper. Finishes with a kiss of ginger. $39.95, lcbo.com 2 PIKE CREEK. A Canadian whisky with a tropical personality. Finished in rum barrels, which results in fruitiness and butterscotch notes. $39.95, lcbo.com 3 GLENMORANGIE LASANTA. Richly layered from an extra two years spent maturing in Spanish oloroso sherry casks. An
underlying sweetness cradles hints of candied fruit and butterscotch. $90.75, lcbo.com 4 COLLINGWOOD WHISKY. A whisky with a lush, fruity mouthfeel and a bouquet of citrus and flower. The go-to local whisky for all your
cocktail needs. $35.15, lcbo.com 5 THE MACALLAN 12 YEAR. Aged for a dozen years to produce a complex whisky that is an impressive amalgam of vanilla, citrus, dark fruit and baking spices. $100.15, lcbo.com
Photograph by ###
1 NYARAI CELLARS 2011 CADENCE. Well-rounded with an array of fruit and spice flavours, a result of four grape varieties in the bottle. $17.25, lcbo.com 2 2014 NOMAD SÜSSRESERVE RIESLING. A critically acclaimed riesling that sings of stone fruit and citrus. Great for patio sipping. $22.25, lcbo.com 3 THIRTY BENCH 2015 WINEMAKER’S BLEND DOUBLE NOIR. A versatile wine with ample dark fruit notes and a lingering, smoky spine. $18.95, lcbo.com
Photograph by ###
THIS JULY, THE WORLD COMES TO NIAGARA TO
Join 59 winemakers from around the world as they gather in Niagara for a weekend of wine and culinary showcase events. Explore up to 159 wines from 9 countries at the Cool Chardonnay World Tour, or opt for more intimate tastings and seminars in cellars and vineyards across wine country.
COOLCHARDONNAY.ORG @coolchardonnay #i4C17
Saturday evening, further your exploration of cool. Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc will share the spotlight at the signature event of the weekend.
TICKETs ON SALE NOW JULY 21 23 NIAGARA, CANADA
A TRUE TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN Grace Foods brings the flavours of Jamaica’s fertile green landscape straight into your kitchen with its lineup of sauces, seasonings, soft drinks and tropical juices
HE BEACHES AND flavours of the Caribbean may seem like a distant plane ride away, but with Grace Foods you can savour authentic island tastes no matter where you live. Grace is one of the Caribbean’s largest and most dynamic food and beverage companies, and it has been bringing the best of the islands to Canadian chefs for over 30 years. Caribbean cuisine is a rustic mosaic of bright flavours, sharp seasoning and potent spice. It is not uncommon to spend long afternoons huddled in a shaded street-food shack, escaping the scorch of the sun with a cold beverage and a plate of barbecued jerk chicken. As you’re firing up the grill this summer, forget the standard ho-hum barbecue sauce. Grace’s line of jerk seasoning is savoury, fragrant and
tenaciously spicy. Rub a coating of Grace’s classic Jerk Seasoning onto your favourite meat – or immerse it in Grace’s Jerk Marinade – an hour before you cook, then barbecue it low and slow like they do in Jamaica.
CARIBBEAN CUISINE IS A RUSTIC MOSAIC OF BRIGHT FLAVOURS AND POTENT SPICES
Equally tasty when cooking in the oven or on the stovetop. For a nice caramelized crust, brush on some Jerk BBQ Sauce during the last five to six minutes of cooking. No Caribbean meal would be complete without a proper island beverage. Grace’s coconut water is 100 percent pure and is the number one selling coconut water in Canada. It’s an excellent source of hydration with five essential electrolytes and zero fat. Or choose from Grace’s wide range of sodas and tropical juices. No matter what you need to make authentic and delicious Caribbean food, Grace has got you covered. ● For recipes, visit www.gracefoods.ca/ news/grillwithgrace/
AN EASY WAY TO EAT WELL With prepackaged meals and fresh food deliveries from Hawley Crescent, clean and nutritious dining is simple
ATING HEALTHY IS a high priority for many of us. But opportunities to indulge in fast food are all too frequent, and we may find ourselves caving in every now and then. Once that processed food settles into our stomachs, the wave of regret soon follows. Instead, one local catering operation has made it easy to eat healthily, even if we’ve got busy schedules to contend with. Hawley Crescent Culinary Services is a catering and meal-service operation based in Whitby, Ont., just east of Toronto. Chef Roger Searle leads a team of dedicated cooks that use fresh ingredients, low amounts of sodium and no preservatives to craft deliciously good-for-you meals from scratch. There is an array of hearty prepackaged meals available at Hawley Crescent’s café. These meals are vacuum-sealed for freshness, and they’re a breeze to reheat and enjoy. If you don’t live in the Whitby area, you can still easily enjoy Hawley Crescent’s tasty eats through its meal plans, which are delivered straight to your door. Simply state your preferred proteins, starches and vegetables and
you’ll get made-from-scratch meals to dig into all week. Chef Roger is also skilled at preparing meals for those with restricted diets – such as celiacs, vegans or just plain picky eaters – without compromising taste or quality. Another strong suit of Hawley Crescent is its catering services. The company boasts over 10 years of experience in the event hospitality industry. Hawley Crescent takes care of not just the food but the design, staffing, rentals and execution for a truly onestop service that alleviates the stress of hosting an important event. Chef Roger’s inventive catering menu will have your guests salivating, and all event menus can be customized and tailored according to your tastes and needs, making each event unique. You’ll see the difference in Hawley’s friendly customer service every step of the way. Chef Roger and his team pride themselves on building strong relationships with their customers and clients, ensuring that everyone goes home happy and fully satiated. ●
WIN A MONTH OF MEALS
Want to get Chef Roger’s delicious, made-from-scratch meals delivered to your doorstep? One lucky foodism reader will win a whole month of meals from Hawley Crescent Culinary Services.
Expect tasty and healthy meals such as tender quarter-chicken dinners, lemon-poached salmon and lasagna. It’s all made fresh, from scratch, with low sodium and no preservatives. The winner will receive one Hawley Crescent meal per day for a month, a prize valued at over $300. For a full list of terms and conditions, and to enter, visit foodism.to/competition
GETTING THERE Porter Airlines is your best bet, offering daily nonstop flights to Chicago from Billy Bishop Airport. flyporter.com
ESCAPISM Chicago is a short flight from away from Toronto, but it’s a world unto itself with art, architecture and food
QUINTESSENTIALLY AMERICAN CITY, Chicago has a reputation for making every type of tourist swoon, whether they’re seeking culture, art or food. While other American cities neighbouring Toronto can feel touristy, Chicago’s identity remains inimitable. A quick flight from Toronto brings you to a sprawling city that inspires awe with its rich architecture, good food and the best libations in the Midwest. Chicago’s tapestry of neighbourhoods means that no two trips will feel the same, and with the right planning, you can explore good chunks of it on foot. Grant Park is an ideal area for a first
Keen to visit more foodie destinations? Check out foodism.to for in-depth food and drink guides near the city and further afield too.
visit, and the nearby Blackstone hotel mixes grand views of the park and Lake Michigan with a history rooted in Chicago’s legendary past, going back to the days of Al Capone. The hotel is also a leisurely walk away from Chicago’s renowned shopping and eating district, the Magnificent Mile. For an up-close and personal look at one of the city’s best food neighbourhoods, the Robey Chicago is a good bet. The hotel recently opened in the Wicker Park area, and it oozes style from its contemporary rooms and its bustling bistro café. And as one of the only skyscrapers in the area, it offers a unique and gorgeous 360-degree view of Chicago. theblackstonehotel.com; therobey.com
CHICAGO ◆◆ Population: 2.7 million ◆◆ Area: 237 square miles ◆◆ Annual visitors: 40 million
After becoming acquainted with Chicago on the street level, it’s time to take things up a few floors. How about 95 floors? Sitting high above the city within the John Hancock Center, the Signature Room’s lounge and cocktail bar present magnificent views of the city with little to no obstruction. It also has a lavish brunch program, so you can enjoy plates of snow crab and caviar from the luxurious buffet to pair with the views. The Signature Room also boasts an extensive international wine list. Reservations are recommended. signatureroom.com
FOOD TOUR WITH STEVE DOLINSKY Like Toronto, Chicago is a rich mosaic of sprawling neighbhourhoods, each with its own personality. And also like Toronto, Chicago’s neighbourhoods can be challenging to navigate if you don’t know where you’re going. We recommend spending a day exploring the city’s corners with local connoisseur Steve Dolinsky. As a food writer and host of the popular Feed podcast, Dolinsky is a vocal proponent of Chicago’s many culinary identities, and he is the best guide with whom to eat your way through the city. He’ll take you from Wicker Park to Chinatown to help you get a full sense of Chicago’s scene. Dolinsky doesn’t advertise his food tours, so to book one, visit his website and shoot him an email. stevedolinsky.com
SHORELINE TOUR Chicago’s skyline architecture is world-renowned, and the best way to become acquainted with it is via a boat cruise. Yes a boat cruise. Trust us: the Shoreline Sightseeing tour brings you face-to-face with many of Chicago’s fabled design styles, from early modern to Art Deco to more modern aesthetic phases. Starting off from the Navy Pier, the tour gently floats through various branches of the Chicago River. It’s the best introduction to the big-shouldered town. Also, not to worry, there’s a licensed bar on board. Purchase tickets in advance. shorelinesightseeing.com
Photograph by Suresh Doss, Donna Binbek Photography
Located in the hustle and bustle of the food-rich Wicker Park neighbourhood, Publican Anker is from the same team behind one of Chicago’s most popular and critically acclaimed restaurants: the Publican. This spinoff is a casual snack bar that exudes an ultra-cool vibe from the moment you step into the saloon-like interior. It only recently opened, but Publican Anker has quickly become one of Chicago’s hippest spots for snacks and drinks. The menu is expansive and just plain fun: plates of freshly shucked oysters join forces with roast chicken from the woodfired grill, spicy wings and blood sausage. The cocktails are some of the best in town, too, as is the wellcurated wine list. publicananker.com
To complement your barbecue this season, we’ve hand-picked some wines that are big, bold and ripe
THE NOSTALGIST Andrea Yu pays homage to the chaotic but charming tradition of dim sum cart service
Photograph by Ryan Faist, Shutterstock
S A SECOND-GENERATION ChineseCanadian growing up in a suburb north of Toronto, I developed an angstinspired repulsion to the food of my parents’ home country. But there was one part of Chinese cuisine that managed to capture my heart: the Cantonese tradition of dim sum. Every Sunday morning, we’d make a weekly pilgrimage to meet my aunts, uncles and cousins in a chaotic Chinese eatery like Scarborough’s Perfect Chinese Restaurant. A designated member of the family would elbow through the crowd to grab a scrap of paper with a number scrawled onto it, securing our group’s place in the queue. By the time our number was called by a frazzled maître d’, the collective stomachrumbling of our dozen-plus party would be sufficient to register seismic tremors. But luckily, another rumbling – that of the closest dim sum cart laden with steaming bamboo baskets full of food – wasn’t far away. No more than a minute would pass from being seated until the first basket would hit our table and our chopstick-armed family members (manners be damned) would joust their way to the few precious pieces of curried cuttlefish or steamed spare rib. If you’re unfamiliar with the traditional format of dim sum restaurants, small servings of food are steam-cooked in bamboo baskets and then piled onto a stainless steel cart, which is seemingly always pushed around the restaurant by the oldest, most cantankerous members of the wait staff. Meandering from table to table, the dim sum ladies cry out the
names of the dishes they bear. But sadly, these rickety push carts are becoming a relic of the past. Today, the typical dim sum service operates with paper menu sheets where you mark your selections in pencil. The items are then brought directly to your table as they’re ready. There are definitely a few improvements to note with this method. Your food comes out hotter and fresher, straight from the kitchen, and it’s probably more hygienic, too. Even in Hong Kong, classic carts are considered tourist draws. Yet I still yearn for the quirks of the cart. Hearing a faraway cart lady bellow out a favourite item is enough to instill a combination of excitement and fear that the baskets might become snapped up before they reach you. You might wait for a dozen carts to pass you by until a fresh batch of har gow dumplings is finally released from the kitchen. But, oh, those juicy shrimp packets are always well worth the wait. The best dim sum restaurants in town (hot tip: head out to Scarborough and Markham – a trip to Skyview is worth the trek) have long since converted to the sheet method. So when faced with the decision of quality versus charm, it seems our taste buds typically tend to win out. But sometimes the heart overrules and I find myself back among the carts at Perfect Chinese, which is impressively still in operation. I settle into that familiar feeling of excitement and fear, fingers crossed that I’ll nab some siu mai before the cart clears out. f
1. T E R RAZ AS D E L OS ANDE S R E SE RVA M AL B EC From the heart of Argentina’s Mendoza wine country comes this malbec. Made for the fiercest malbec lover, it seems to last forever, taking you on journey of dark fruit, plum and chocolate. The kind of drink that’s well suited for a meat lover’s dinner party. $20, lcbo.com
2. DON DAVID 2015 M AL B E C Argentinian wines are so great for pairing with barbecue. Don David’s 2015 from El Esteco in Argentina’s Calchaquí Valley region is a full-bodied malbec with a formidable amount of plums, dark berries and baking spices. Simply magical when served slightly chilled on hot summer nights. $16, lcbo.com
3. F IVE VINEYA R D S 2014 PINOT NOI R From the Okanagan Valley in B.C., Mission Hill Winery has created a very food-friendly wine with this vibrant pinot noir, delicate from start to finish. Laced with notes of cherry and beets, and tied together with an underlying earthiness that makes it an ideal partner for cheese and charcuterie boards. $18, lcbo.com
F O O D I S M .T O
THE DIGEST SMELLS LIKE TORONTO SPIRIT Despite strict government regulations and red tape (see p. 10) that saw the Toronto Distillery Co. shuttering its retail outlet earlier this year, the city welcomes a new distillery – Spirit of York – fittingly located in the Distillery District. Spirit of York produces two small-batch spirits
We’ve got Toronto’s food and drink news that’s fit for sharing
– gin and vodka – made from locally sourced rye and water from Springwater, Ont. (home to some of the cleanest spring water in Canada).The facility also houses a bitters library and a bar. Much of the distilling equipment is set behind glass, so guests can watch the liquormaking process as it happens. Spirit of York’s gin and vodka are available for purchase on-site, and other small-batch liquors will be retailed there as well.
MCEWAN GETS CHEESY Chef Mark McEwan’s eponymous grocery stores are getting an artisanal upgrade through a new partnership with Afrim Pristine of the Cheese Boutique. Pristine, the go-to cheese purveyor for chefs across Toronto, will manage McEwan’s new cheese and deli program. Customers will have access to new cheeses, charcuterie and local and international products.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
Almost 40 years since its closure, the historic Crystal Ballroom at the Omni King Edward Hotel re-opened earlier this spring. Over $6 million dollars went toward restoring the glitz and grandeur of the 5,000-square-foot space, marrying modern luxury and style with old-world charm. The ballroom first opened nearly 100 years ago and has hosted countless high-profile events and galas in the course of its storied history. Located on the hotel’s 17th floor, the lavish room also has one of the city’s best panoramic views.
Photograph by Kayla Rocca
Joining the Drake’s ever-diversifying roster of venues is the Drake Commissary, a multi-purpose “culinary workshop” in the Junction Triangle. Set to open in June, the Commissary bills itself as a bakery, a bar, a larder (offering jams, cheeses and charcuterie) and a communityoriented arts hub. In addition to the Commissary, the Drake’s expansive portfolio includes hotels, general stores and a restaurant.
A VISIT TO A BYGONE ERA
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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 midday brunch, a savoury pie or a dinner with a view 94
1 White Lily Diner 678 Queen St. E.
Chef Ben Denham, who made a name for himself at Electric Mud BBQ and Grand Electric, moved to the east end to open this artisanal diner a few months ago. If you haven’t been yet, go now. Denham offers
classic diner fare (such as English breakfast) and items that channel the American south. The menu is seasonal, and the pastries are the best part. After you’ve had a plate of southern grits, order the house-made doughnuts – they sell out fast. whitelilydiner.ca
TOAST OF THE TOWN
In brunch-obsessed Toronto, picking a favourite can be tough. So we’ve done all the work for you
BEST OF THE REST 2 Momofuku Daisho
4 Maha’s Egyptian Brunch
190 University Ave.
226 Greenwood Ave.
Momofuku’s swanky, modern, glass-enclosed dining space offers a brunch that’s not to be missed. Chef de cuisine Paula Navarrete keeps things family-style and familiar, but she has added her own flair with dishes such as steak and eggs: sliced strip loin with scallion pancakes, kimchi and fried eggs. If you want to step it up a notch, go for the massive bagel feasting platter, which is piled high with scrambled eggs, smoked fish mousse, breakfast sausage and toasted bagels.
Maha’s brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to Toronto when it opened a few years ago. It looks and feels like a restaurant straight out of the ’burbs, but it happens to be in the city’s Leslieville/Little India corridor. A family-run operation – mom and daughter in the kitchen, son managing the dining room – cranks out some of the most authentic Egyptian fare this city has seen. Don’t miss the falafel with soft-boiled eggs and the shakshuka (sautéed tomatoes with eggs).
3 Little Sito
5 Takht-e Tavoos
840 Bloor St. W.
1120 College St.
This charming Bloorcourt restaurant recently launched a midday take on its flavourful Lebanese eats. Cheese lovers will be pleased with Little Sito’s signature offerings: poached eggs on halloumi, and fried eggs topped with shanklish, a soft cheese popular in Lebanon. For omnivores, lamb sausages (made by Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington) can be added as a side to any order.
Normally we’d recommend you head uptown for proper Iranian food, but College Street’s Takht-e Tavoos – from the owners of Pomegranate – presents Iranian breakfast and brunch in its truest form. Guests feast on bowls of haleem (porridge) and dizi sangi (lamb stew), while adventurous eaters come here for the signature kalleh pacheh: a soup made from sheep’s head, tongue and hooves.
1 Pie Commission 935 The Queensway
The Pie Commission revamps stodgy Britishstyle pies as hip, hand-held meals. Made in five-inch, single-serving portions, these savoury pies feature wonderfully flaky, allbutter crusts and fillings made from fresh ingredients for that baked-at-home flavour. You can grab a pie to eat on the spot (with the option to add salad or fries on the side), or get a frozen four-pack to take home. piecommission.com
1 THE SELECTOR
EASY AS PIE
A lot of the time, pies are just better when they aren’t sweet. Here are the best of Toronto’s savoury ones BEST OF THE REST 2 Kanga Aussie Meat Pies
4 Ma Maison
65 Duncan St.
4243 Dundas St. W.
Bless Kanga for bringing a delicious slice of Australian pie to Toronto. Kanga serves up a rotating menu of savoury pies with the flakiest crusts you’ll find in Toronto. Our favourites include the pepper steak pie (cooked with Amsterdam ale) and the Kiwi classic (with minced beef and chunks of white cheddar cheese).
Etobicoke’s Ma Maison is a love letter from chef Patrick Alléguède and his wife Tara to the classic French patisserie. The neighbourhood bakery has a loyal following for its pastries, breads and quiches. But we think the standout item is the tourtière, a French-Canadian meat pie with pork, potato and a buttery, flaky crust.
3 Randy’s Take-Out
5 Sultan of Samosas
1569 Eglinton Ave. W.
1 Oak St.
This Eglinton Avenue shop is a Caribbean patty-lover’s Shangri-La, crafting the best Jamaican beef pies in the city. Randy’s has been cranking out addictive patties since the ’70s, packed with Scotch bonnet spice and marinated minced beef. Order one “hot to-go” (ready to eat) and grab a box of frozen ones to eat at home later.
The Sultan specializes in one thing and one thing only: samosas, triangular patties that are tightly wrapped with paper-thin sheets of pastry. Choices range from spiced beef and chicken to one of the best vegetable samosas we have had in the city. The Sultan claims to be “home of the best samosas in the world” – we’ll let you judge that one for yourself.
BEST OF THE REST 2 360
301 Front St. W.
1 Benvenuto Pl.
You simply can’t find a better vantage point in the city than from its highest tower – favoured by one forlorn rapper for good reason. The CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant slowly revolves over the course of your meal, making every seat in the house the best one. Time your reservation to catch the sunset and watch the city transform from day to night .
With consistently well-executed French fare and thoughtful service, Scaramouche has been one of the city’s very best restaurants for over 30 years. The ambience is quietly sophisticated, and the hillside setting offers romantic views of downtown’s skyline. Not surprisingly, the tables by the windows are the first to fill up every evening.
3 The Slip
5 The One Eighty
235 Queen’s Quay W.
55 Bloor St. W.
One of the newest additions to Toronto’s waterfront, the Slip – from the team that brought us the popular Boxcar Social – still retains a comparatively under-the-radar status. The waterside patio is decked out with plenty of wooden tables, offering excellent vantage points to watch boats sail by.
Set 51 storeys above Bay and Bloor in the Manulife Centre, it’s no surprise that the One Eighty offers an impressive view over Yorkville. But the real draw is that the skyhigh vistas overlook the city to both the north and the south. Two patios allow for alfresco admiration of those dramatic cityscapes.
5 THE SELECTOR
POINTS OF VIEW
Few things pair better with dinner than a gorgeous cityscape. Herewith, Toronto’s best restaurant vistas
1 Canoe 66 Wellington St. W.
The views from the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower are second only to executive chef John Horne’s cooking. His seasonal approach is rigorously Canadian, making use of Newfoundland cod, Quebec venison and Great Lakes pickerel. The effort certainly pays off: Canoe has been around for over 20 years and it only seems to get better with age. A coveted window seat here allows you to experience Toronto’s various seasons from a breathtaking bird’s-eye view. canoerestaurant.com
CHICKEN: Marinated in pickle brine for a week before hitting the smoker.
BRISKET: Seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and smoked for around 18 hours. It is rested for eight hours before lunch service to get a buttery texture.
PULLED PORK: Rubbed with salt and pepper and smoked for around 12 hours. Comes with a light vinegar-based barbecue sauce.
Adamson Barbecue, 176 Wicksteed Ave., 647-559-2080
PIE: Adamson has a rotating list of house-made pies. The key lime is our favourite.
SAUSAGE: Bratwurst and jalapeno-cheddar are always on the menu and are crowd favourites. Made daily with brisket and spare rib trimmings.
Photograph by ###
Adamson Barbecue comes impressively close to authentic central Texas-style barbecue right here in Toronto. We asked pitmaster Adam Skelly to present his signature â€™cue platter
TURKEY BREAST: Brined for up to 14 days and then smoked for a couple hours before being braised with a bit of butter.
RIBS: After three hours in the smoker, spare ribs are glazed with butter and corn syrup, then wrapped in foil with barbecue sauce to soften until done.
Foodism - 5 - Toronto, food and drink