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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was much good eating to be had this past month, as we checked out a selection of restaurants both old and new. If you haven’t been to Delux Restaurant (92 Ossington Avenue) for their awesome Cuban lunch, don’t delay. Above is the roast pork dinner featuring sweet fork tender pork, fried plantains and rice and beans.
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.