Lucky Dip – Friday, March 2nd, 2012

In Toronto:

After opening Le Canard Mort (896 Queen Street East) last fall, the owners of Le Rossignol are combining the two locations to make way for Toucan Taco Bar at the old Rossignol location at 696 Queen Street East. Le Canard will have a special “Le Rossignol” menu, while I’m guessing the Toucan Taco Bar will be serving… tacos.

Bahn Mi Boys (392 Queen Street West) are still closed for renovations, but things are coming along.

You should go:

Tickets for the second of Chef Nick Liu’s preview dinners for his upcoming restaurant GwaiLo are now on sale. The second dinner will also take place at the Niagara Street Cafe (169 Niagara Street) on March 13th.

The Toronto Wine and Cheese Show takes place on March 16th – 18th at the International Centre in Mississauga.

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Lucky Dip – Monday, July 18, 2011

Think you’re saving the world by shopping at the farmers’ market? Think again. [The Guardian]

While Toronto city council voted to maintain the local food procurement policy, take a look at all the loopholes that pretty much gut any positive good that comes from such a decision. [NOW]

Austrian authorities plan to watch for really big BBQs after thieves make off with a truck full of mustard and ketchup. [Globe and Mail]

Chefs and their food tattoos. [The Financial Times]

Could you kill your own meat? [National Post]

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Market Mondays – Fiddleheads

There’s a phenomenon on Twitter where people will mention or retweet something and create a buzz, but the buzz fails. For instance, a dozen people will mention a food-related event but none of them will actually attend. The same kind of failed buzz seems to be happening with seasonal produce. I’m seeing piles of people squeeing about ramps and fiddleheads, but none of that excitement translating to blog posts showing what they’ve been cooking with these seasonal glories.

In fact, the only mention I’ve seen about fiddleheads in terms of someone having purchased and prepared the things is pickling. No references to the fresh product at all. Which makes me think that maybe people still don’t know what to do with fiddleheads, even though they’re turning up everywhere.

Up until a few years ago, the few people in Toronto (mostly ex-pat Maritimers) who knew and loved fiddleheads were happy to have one small feed of them each June. There was one produce shop in Kensington Market that would bring them in from Nova Scotia and by the time they made it to the store shelves they were already starting to go off. Sobey’s stores (based in Nova Scotia) would sometime get them in as well, albeit in very small quantities.

While the Ostrich Fern is native to Ontario, nobody seemed to pick up on the fact that the things are mighty tasty until a few years ago – probably after having listened to a Maritimer friend bemoan the lack of them one time too many.

So now they’re everywhere – and people are excited – but still… nobody seems to be doing much with them.

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Quincy

Toronto is known as “the city within a park”. Just about every resident lives with walking distance of a park, although most of these are not huge multi-acre swaths of land, but are little in-fill parkettes. Parkettes pop up in the middle of residential streets, and at one point, probably had houses on them. Now they are mostly  home to swing sets, jungle gyms and a few benches.

The parkette closest to us, the place where we end up a couple of times a day while walking the dogs, has some landscaping along one side. It’s hard to tell if the city planted the bushes and shrubs or if they predate the park back to when there was a house on the property.

Last year, I joined a group of locals in cleaning up the park, as it regularly attracts crack dealers and hookers from the area. Underneath the hedges and shrubs, we came across a pair of quince bushes. The bushes were covered in vibrant scarlet flowers in spring, and piles of little green orbs in the summer.

Regular quinces grow on trees and get as big as apples. Quinces are, in fact, part of the same family that includes both apples and roses. But these were tiny fruit, about the size of crabapples. I had wondered if the fruit were edible, and a neighbour who is involved with the local horticultural society couldn’t tell me, but my Google-Fu told me that what we had stumbled across was an ornamental quince from Japan, appropriately known as a Japonica quince. Further Googling determined that not only were Japonica quinces edible, but they made awesome jam and jelly, because of the natural pectin.

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