Smörgåsbord – Keriwa Cafe

We talk a lot about seasonal, local food, but the ultimate in this type of cuisine has to be the food of the First Nations people, who predate the rest of us by thousands of years. European settlers relied on help from First Nations communities when they arrived in Canada, but a lot of what we look at as being “seasonal and local” really isn’t at all, it’s comprised of foodways that were imported.

Toronto has never had a restaurant featuring Aboriginal cuisine that I’m aware of, so Keriwa Cafe (1690 Queen Street West) has both a clean slate, and a lot to prove. There is little precedent for Aboriginal dishes in fine dining, but can Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe make it high-end enough to bring in an upscale clientele (who will “rough it” into the wilderness of Parkdale for the novelty and trendiness factor, but need to be turned into returning regulars to keep the business running), and rustic enough to keep the cuisine true to its roots?

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Smörgåsbord – La Societe

There’s probably no excuse for having photos of a meal on my computer for 6 weeks and not getting around to writing about a place. We dined at La Societe Bistro (131 Bloor Street West) in early July. I’m extremely happy to see someone putting some love and care back into the space. While I’m not your typical Yorkville restaurant-goer, I have fond memories of the space back in the 80s when it was called The Bermuda Onion and the upper patio was covered in sand, and my roommates and I would sit out there drinking Harvey Wallbangers and dreaming of owning that Gaultier dress in the window of Creed’s (damn, I’m old).

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Smörgåsbord – Wvrst, Stockyards, Pizza e Pazzi, Marben

Smörgåsbord part 2 continues with the many meals of May.

We popped by Wvrst (609 King Street West) a day or so after they opened to grab a photo for my Toronto.com piece and found it to be a great place. The many sausages come either on a bun or as currywurst, where the sausage is sliced and served with rye bread and a tomato curry sauce. The above was a Kranjska sausage and was way delicious. Beside it, the Italian sausage with sauerkraut.

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Smörgåsbord – The Ballroom, Bloom, Cardinal Rule

So, uh… we’ve been eating out a lot lately. For work… you know. In any case, I amassed a bunch of stuff throughout May, figuring that we’d do a SalivAte column over on TasteTO, but then we decided to change things around and I have all these pictures of tasty food… So I’m working through the smaller ones alphabetically and then there’s a couple more big ones – dinner with multiple dishes – and then I’ll hopefully be caught up. Maybe. In any case, please enjoy.

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Recipe For Change Recap

Foodshare‘s fabulous Recipe For Change event migrated to the North St. Lawrence Market this year, allowing for more space, which in turn allowed for more chefs and more guests. I love that organizers make a point of not overselling the event, so it’s never packed; line-ups at food stations are short or non-existent and there is no sense of frenzy involved.

Recipe For Change is FoodShare’s annual fundraiser in which they raise monies directed toward their Field to Table Schools program which teaches school children about where their food comes from. Everyone I talked to on Thursday night considered the event a great success; hats off to Adrienne De Francesco and everyone at FoodShare for a fantastic time.

Below, check out some of the offerings from participating chefs. We didn’t try everything (and I somehow missed most of the desserts, which has got to be a first), but everything we did have was wonderful.

Above: Chickpea polenta topped with ratatouille and fresh mozzarella from Chef Marc Breton of the Gladstone Hotel.

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SalivATE – March 2011

This month’s food porn starts with a meal at Jam Cafe (195 Carlton Street). Never heard of it? It’s a charming neighbourhood bistro just west of Cabbagetown that we happened across about a month ago when we were looking for somewhere to eat before a concert at the Phoenix. Besides the fact that the space is absolutely darling, the food is really great and classic bistro fare. Above is the applewood smoked trout with horseradish crème fraîche and homemade apple & onion soda bread.

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SalivAte – September 2010

 

Oh we ate some tasty things this month, my friends. Despite being sick for the past month, I’ve managed to drag myself out to a few places for a bite to eat (I know, the sacrifices I go to for this website), and have documented them all for you lovers of the food porn.

The above dish is not a pizza, or a tart. Rather it’s the very intriguing presentation of the duck and foie gras ravioli at Scarpetta (550 Wellington Street West). Drizzled with a marsala reduction, it was earthy, homey and sweet all at the same time. Possibly my new most favouritest thing.

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Thursdays Are So Tasty

There’s probably nowhere else that you can buy food from Susur Lee and Vesta Lunch in the same place. All for $5 a pop.

Tasty Thursdays returned to Nathan Phillips Square last week and runs every Thursday (11am – 2pm, although some vendors are not ready right at 11am) until August 26th. The premise is a simple one – bring in an array of Toronto restaurants selling food items for $5 or less. Bring in bands to entertain the crowds who have come looking for a cheap and interesting lunch. Presto, instant cool event.

The musical guests change weekly but the restaurants are booked for a month, with some sticking around for the full promotion. Each restaurant serves up samples of their most popular dishes, and at $5 or less, it’s easy to try a bunch.

Above – the guys from Vesta Lunch serving up Greek food.

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Tastefully Tasty

Greg said it best on Twitter: “sweet merciful crap, there’s more food inside!”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Second Harvest’s Toronto Taste fund raiser upped its game substantially this year, doubling the number of chefs involved (from 30 to 60) and taking over part of the Royal Ontario Museum and Queen’s Park (the street, not the park itself). With tickets going for $250 (half of which garnered a receipt for tax purposes), it wasn’t an event for everybody – a fact that won Toronto Taste the teeniest bit of flack over on Torontoist, where they pointed out the irony of having a fancy food event in order to help raise funds to feed the hungry. Especially one where some people would take a bite of something and then pitch it. Yikes! (Next year I’m going with a doggy bag to bring people’s half-eaten leftovers home to my dogs! Can I get away with that at the swankest food event of the year?)

But the fact is that every $250 ticket will buy 250 meals, and Second Harvest delivers over 15,000 meals every day (that’s 6 million pounds of food each year!), mostly from donated perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants and cafeterias.

And while the following photos are most definitely food porn, we’d like to encourage you to consider the bigger picture. Second Harvest will happily accept your donations – in any amount – even though the big event is over. The Toronto Taste online auction, which runs until June 23rd, includes cool items at every price point. As well, please consider supporting the participating restaurants if you possibly can – they all worked incredibly hard and donated their time and food to the cause.

We’d also like to offer hearty congratulations for a job well done to everyone at Second Harvest – and that amazing army of volunteers. You guys rock.

Shown above: Ontario perch with chorizo, pickled heirloom tomatoes and fava bean puree from Chef Andrea Nicholson of Great Cooks on 8.

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SalivAte – June 2010

People always assume because we write about food that we’ve been to every restaurant in the city (all 5000 or so of them), and they’re always disappointed that we haven’t been. Meanwhile, readers tell us that they’d like more photo-essays.

So to satisfy your food porn cravings and what might be an inappropriate desire to live vicariously through us, we’ve started eating out more just for the sake of eating out; to expand our palates, to learn more about our city’s great restaurants, and to give you all something to drool over. Note that these are not reviews – just photos of pretty and tasty food, and that while all the restaurants and chefs knew who we were, all have been paid for out of our own pockets.

Above, from L.A.B. (651 College Street), are chicken pogos; breaded chicken legs that have been Frenched to reveal the bone which doubles as the stick. The creamy puddles are the blue cheese dressing and the red discs are a jelled hot sauce. A shredded celery salad takes the place of the traditional celery sticks that accompany chicken wings.

We visited LAB with a vegetarian friend who was quite delighted to have another slightly upscale place to go for dinner. We tried a number of things on the menu which is about 50/50 vegetarian to carnivore. We all dug the fun tongue-in-cheek sense of humour that chefs Dubrovsky and Scott demonstrate in their menu.

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Souped Up

This past Wednesday was sunny and warm – not a day you’d typically consider eating soup. But 400 people lined up at the doors of the Gardiner Museum to take part in Empty Bowls, an annual event featuring local chefs, local pottery artists and of course, great soup.

For $45, attendees not only got to sample soups from 20 different restaurants at the Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner restaurant, they also got a beautiful, hand-made bowl to take home.

This fantastic event is based entirely on donations – from the chefs donating their time and food, to local potters donating bowls, many made especially for this event. With bread donated from Ace Bakery and crackers from Evelyn’s Crackers, plus water from Gaia and cups from Green Shift, all proceeds from the event go towards Anishnawbe Health Toronto, a charitable organization that provides food to homeless people. Volunteers and Gardiner Museum staff also donated their time, and props, kudos and huge piles of thanks and appreciation must go to organizer Siobhan Boyd who pulls this thing together every year with aplomb.

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