Smörgåsbord – A Week of Meat at Amsterdam Brewhouse, Canoe and Pork Ninjas

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Good luck, bad luck and multi-course dinners with lots of meat – all things that come in threes, apparently, as Greg and I discovered this past week as we tucked in to three very different mighty meaty meals, each amazing in its own way.

On Thursday, November 20th, we joined the brewers at Amsterdam Brewhouse for a fantastic meal that paired each course with both a beer from Amsterdam and a wine from Good Earth Winery. They’ve done a few of these events before and it’s always fun to see which works better with the food – beer or wine. Chef Avaughn Wells sent out some wonderful dishes so we were all happy campers indeed.

Amsterdam does these events with some regularity and at an average of $65 per person, they’re a great deal, especially when you consider the meal included a bottle of Amsterdam’s 2014 Barrel Aged Sour Cherry Imperial Stout to take home.

(Above: Hand-cut fettuccine with brown sage butter, roasted butternut squash, charred collard greens, roasted chestnut and charred lemon. Paired with Amsterdam’s 18 Hands – Rustic Pale Ale and Good Earth’s 2010 Chardonnay.)

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Vive Le Québec Dîner at Biff’s

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The Oliver & Bonacini Group is a diverse collection of restaurants, many of which serve a specific niche, and a specific style of food.  Biff’s Bistro is well known for their French bistro cuisine, but the food tends to be more France-French than Quebec-French. Fortunately, O&B also gives their chefs creative license to do special events and dinners, which is how we ended up at Biff’s earlier this week for their Vive le Québec Dîner – a five-course dinner in which Chef Amanda Ray created a menu of the best French Canadian cuisine, all paired with Quebec beers (pairings by Peter Campagna, Certified Ciccerone) and ciders (paired by Mel Hilton).

These dinners are one-off events and most dishes don’t show up on the regular menu, so they’re worth checking out as they really give the chefs the opportunity to offer items and ingredients they they might not normally get to work with or serve. The Vive le Québec Dîner was $85 all in, and included five dishes with drink pairings as well as a welcome drink.

For more info on upcoming dinners, check out the Oliver & Bonacini website or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

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Lucky Dip – Monday, March 19th, 2012

In Toronto:

Roving chef Matt Kantor has announced plans to settle down, specifically at a space at 1256 Dundas Street West (at Dovercourt), where he’ll be cooking up Spanish-influenced cuisine. Plans are for Bakio to open in about 12 weeks, but maybe double that to allow for delays and a potential CUPE strike.

Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill at Bayview Village (2901 Bayview Avenue) is closed for 4 weeks starting today for renovations.

Angelo’s on King (791 King Street West) is no longer open for lunch but will continue to open for dinner.

The Golden Apple Confectionery (warning – flash and music!) is coming soon to Liberty Village. They plan to open in April at 171 East Liberty Street, unit #142 where they’ll be offering various types of caramel apples and chocolate delights.

Porchetta & Co. (825 Dundas Street West) brings back the uber-popular porchetta and waffle dinner, this Thursday and Friday after 5pm only.

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

In Toronto:

Remember the sad, tired cafeteria on the 8th floor of the Bay Queen Street? Now it looks like this. The Arcadian Loft is a new event space run by Oliver & Bonacini set to open soon.

Annona in the Park Hyatt Toronto (4 Avenue Road) has introduced a spring sharing menu, featuring dishes suitable for 3-4 people and including lobster grilled cheese, seafood risotto, rack of lamb, and filet mignon.

Tomorrow is FoodShare‘s Great Big Crunch. Register with them and then eat an apple. Yeah, it’s mostly for schoolkids, but apples are tasty and it sets a good example for the kids in your life.

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Lucky Dip – Thursday, December 1st, 2011

You’ll laugh your butt off at this, then feel guilty for doing so. And when it comes to selling fast food chicken, it’s a bit of a stretch. But who doesn’t enjoy the occasional playful dictator? [Daily Mail]

Old salty – people get freaking out about consuming too much salt, but too little can be just as bad. [Globe and Mail]

This is interesting – it looks as if the US is getting set to allow the slaughter of horses for meat. Which means fewer horses being shipped across the border to Canada for slaughter here. [Chicago Tribune]

Lazy Daisy’s is kid-friendly and offers tasty grub. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of new life on Gerrard. [NOW]

You know, part of me really believes that the “drunken office Christmas party” really only exists on TV. I’ve never been to one, and I’ve never known anyone who has been to one. Most workplaces do some kind of demure no-booze luncheon and then send everybody back to work. [Grub Street]

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Lucky Dip – Monday, November 14th, 2011

Cooked versus raw – or – maybe this is why people on raw food diets are so slim. [Globe and Mail]

More than 30 years after his death, Colonel Harland Sanders will become a published author – online no less. KFC plans to publish a recently discovered manuscript written by Sanders in the 60s. Part-autobiography, part cookbook, it sadly does not contain THE secret recipe. [Philly.com]

Black Creek Pioneer Village makes a one-mile beer, made with ingredients grown on the museum grounds. [Toronto Sun]

A dirty restaurant bathroom doesn’t necessarily mean that the kitchen is disgusting too. Also, door knobs aren’t that dirty, stop being so paranoid!) [Chow]

I’m a big fan of returning old buildings to their former grandeur, so the plans by Oliver & Bonacini to return the Arcadian Court at The Bay Queen Street to its original art deco elegance get a big thumbs up. The room (along with the sad little cafeteria-style restaurant) will become an event space in 2012. [Oliver & Bonacini blog]

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Smörgåsbord – Bannock

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the media preview event at Oliver & Bonacini’s Bannock at the Hudson’s Bay flagship store (401 By Street) at Yonge and Queen, but those events, while fun and full of free samples, are never really reflective of what the restaurant is like during regular service. Of course, it took a few weeks to get back; Greg and I arrived once without a reservation for dinner and the place was packed. So we popped in for lunch a week or so later and managed to score a table and check out what Chef Anthony Walsh had done with a menu that doubles as a love song to Canadian cuisine and Canadian history.

Teaming up with the Bay and creating a restaurant featuring Canadian comfort food was a no-brainer. As in, why didn’t someone think of this before? The space is both modern and sleek and drenched in history – step into the dining room portion of the space and look up – the ceiling is made from planks of The Queen’s Wharf, a 244 foot long wharf that once stood at the foot of Bathurst Street and was buried/underwater until 2006 when it was unearthed during excavations for a condo tower. The walls, which also look like wooden planks, are actually concrete. How’s that for modern history?

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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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Oliver & Bonacini at the Bell Lightbox – Ready For Their Close-Up

The biggest opening of this year’s film festival isn’t taking place on the movie screens. Instead, it’s all about where movie stars and movie goers will be dining. Torontonians have been watching the Bell Lightbox reach for the sky for the past couple of years, and when it was announced that Oliver & Bonacini would be running the onsite restaurants, both food lovers and movie fans were excited. What a great way to have dinner and a movie.

O&B Canteen, located at street level, opened in mid-August and is already receiving rave reviews. The 3,500 square foot space, designed by KPMB architects (who also designed the rest of the Bell Lightbox) seats 90 at banquettes and communal tables and another 70 on the streetside patio.

Officially opening today [Editor’s Note – Original info indicated that Luma would open today, but a representative from O&B has informed me that it doesn’t actually open until Sunday], Luma is a more upscale destination, seating 230 with room for another 50 on the terrace. The space is huge (8,000 square feet) and boasts marble walls, oak tables, leather chairs and a wall of windows that look down onto King Street West or up at the skyline and the CN Tower.

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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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Out Standing in a Field

Yeah, I know, but I’m coming up empty in the witty subject line department today. And for those of us who attended yesterday’s Feast of Fields event at the Kortright Centre in Vaughan, we not only stood around – in a field (badum bum), but the event lived up to the outstanding part as well.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the event that was created to bring together chefs and promote local organic food has become a must on the calendar of every Toronto-area chef and food lover. With over 40 chefs taking part, guests had the opportunity to try everything from local wine and beer to ice cream, spit-roasted pork, fresh bread and even pizza, most made from local and organic ingredients.

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