Lucky Dip – Monday, March 5th, 2012

In Toronto:

The big food news this past weekend was that chefs Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth will be taking over the Niagara Street Cafe (169 Niagara Street) as of April 1st, renaming it Edulis. Caballo was the chef at Niagara Street until a few years ago when he and partner Nemeth (she was the chef de cuisine at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar) left Toronto to travel. After working at restaurants around the world, including in Tuscany and California, they’re returning to the city to run their own place.

Ici Bistro (538 Manning Avenue)  is closed until March 21st for staff vacations.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar has taken over the old Smokeless Joe’s location at 125 John Street and opens today.

Greg Clow got the scoop about Mill Street Brewpub opening a location in Pearson Airport. Basically, there will be no beer brewed onsite, but there will be a 130-seat pub with 10 Mill Street brands on tap. Get the full story at Canadian Beer News.

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Getting All Medieval on Your ‘Licious

Visitors to Casa Loma don’t normally get to wander around with drinks and food. As a museum and historic site, food is generally restricted to the basement cafe area. Yes, there have always been weddings and special events in a few of the larger rooms where it’s safe to have food in a seated environment, but food stations and samples throughout the castle? Unheard of.

Which is why it was so cool on Friday night when the Pegasus Hospitality Group took over the castle to offer a Medieval taste and tour as part of Winterlicious.

You might have heard the name Pegasus Group before. They run a number of restaurants in the GTA, but their hospitality division, under Executive Chef Steffan Howard, also runs the food service at the Palais Royale and Casa Loma. This normally encompasses things like weddings and special events, but as part of Winterlicious, they turned the castle into a Medieval market place.

Staff wore Medieval costumes as they greeted guests at the door. From there we were handed maps and encouraged to explore.

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Two For Tea and Becoming an “Expert”

I’ve been to two different tea events in the past week. Both very different in scope and both of which left me with a curious little bug in my brain.

The first tea was an afternoon tea and lecture on the health benefits of tea at Toronto’s Casa Loma. Having never been to Casa Loma after living in Toronto going on twenty years, I figured it was high time to do so and tea in the gorgeous marble conservatory was as good an excuse as any. Casa Loma is, indeed, a big freakin’ castle, and was as marvellous as it had been made out to be. It would have been more pleasant had there been considerably fewer tourists, however, because nothing takes the charm out of tea in the lush conservatory of a castle than a bunch of people in ugly shorts and sneakers and ball caps peering through the glass doors taking your photo.

The meal itself was your standard afternoon tea fare – scones, pastries, fruit and sandwiches. Passable, but not outstanding on any level: California strawberries when local ones are still in season, too many super-sweet pastries that got left behind, clotted cream passed around in the jar (!!!) instead of in a dish (am I at someone’s house??), and, as is always the case, not enough vegetarian sandwiches, because inevitably, the meat-eaters will ignore the roast beef and turkey and scoff *all* of the egg salad before you even knew there were any there.

The actual tea for drinking threw us all for a bit of a loop. It seems that Lipton was a sponsor in some capacity because all that was on offer was different varieties of Lipton tea – in bags. There were prize baskets from Lipton given out at the end, and I suspect that the guest speaker was a shill for Lipton as well, so frequently did she tout their products.

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