At 8 weeks and counting, you’d think we’d have the basics figured out. After all, for most of us, if we don’t have a dog, grocery shopping is the only reason to leave the house. And maybe because purchasing essentials is the only reason we’re leaving the house, interacting with others has become kind of terrifying.
Headlines such as “Why shopping for groceries is no longer fun” or “We’ll never shop for groceries the same way again” make it clear that a meandering stroll through the aisles is now a thing of the past. There is no lingering, no reading labels, no picking out the non-bruised apples. You need to get in there (after standing for 45 minutes in line), get your stuff, and get out as fast as possible.
Bistro 990 (990 Bay Street) will shut its doors on March 17th.
Vegan chef Doug McNish‘s first book Eat Raw, Eat Well will be published on March 20th. It’s available for pre-order at various online booksellers already.
Tori’s Bakeshop opens today at 2188 Queen Street East offering vegan, organic and refined sugar-free goodies like pies, cakes, cookies, donuts and more to the folks in the Beach.
You should go:
Tonight at The Depanneur (1033 College Street) the drop-in dinner is tamales by Holy Tamale. Vegan-friendly corn tamales with sweet potato, apple, onion and spices. Plus “drunken beans” and green rice – all for $10. An extra $2 will keep the carnivores happy with some chorizo.
Shoppers who bustle about the south St. Lawrence Market building seldom look up – they’re too busy. But if they did, they’d see that there is a fantastic kitchen and event space at the northwest corner that overlooks the market proper and offers a breathtaking view of the city skyline. Equipped with top of the line appliances, the space is often used to host dinners and cooking demos and this summer a handful of Toronto’s executive chefs are taking part in a dinner series where they’ll cook and interact with guests.
On May 12th, we attended the first event in this series with Chef Andrew Carter from the Queen and Beaver Public House (35 Elm Street). I’ve been a fan of Carter’s since he started at Q&B and he enthusiastically led Greg and I on a tour of his kitchen. That he’s been known to serve up dishes like fried cod cheeks, potted duck and a venison stew made with chocolate also don’t hurt.
His night at St. Lawrence Market featured traditional English fare, and was designed to tie in with the Toronto launch of the Billy Elliot musical.
I actually came across these dark chocolate and floral bars well before Valentine’s Day, and if I had my act together, would have posted about them before now. The collection is by Belgian chocolatier Dolfin and is called The Parfums d’Eden. It features 4 different flowers (rose, violet, verviene [lemon verbena] and orange blossom), offered in 30g bars of 60% chocolate.
We found these at Aren’t We Sweet in St. Lawrence Market, but they should be available wherever Dolfin chocolate is sold.
All of the bars smelled and tasted strongly of the included flower, although I didn’t get a lot of lemon either on the nose or the tongue with the verveine. In fact, the dried flowers within the chocolate had an almost tobacco-like taste and smell. No sign of lemon whatsoever. I wasn’t familiar with verveine as a flower – didn’t know it was “verbena”, so imagine my surprise to discover that the flavour is meant to be lemony.
Christopher Palik was born in Saskatchewan and lived there until graduating high school. He moved to Vancouver and attended the Vancouver Community College Culinary Arts Foundations program. After graduating at the top of his class, he decided he wanted to be a diesel mechanic instead, returning to Vancouver Community College for the diesel technician course. At the prospect of an apprenticeship in the Northwest Territories, he decided to return to cheffing. He discovered his passion for cooking after taking a job at the pub behind his house. He went on to work all over Vancouver, then travelled and cooked in Europe, and ended up in Toronto about 7 years ago where he worked for a variety of restaurants. He took over L EAT catering and Paese restaurants a few years ago.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I kinda always knew that I wanted to work with my hands. After failed attempts at construction and mechanics, I realized that both of those careers lacked the creativity that I was looking for. I was exposed to the business by working as a dishwasher during high school and I fed off the energy of the kitchens.
It’s been a while since we ran an On the Shelf column. I’m not sure why – it’s not like I haven’t been shopping. But in the past month I’ve come across some great finds that I just had to share.
Dark Chocolate with fragments of Rose – Chocolats Yves Thuries
Available at: Domino’s, St. Lawrence Market, $5.99
This is exactly what it appears to be, a 70% dark chocolate bar with little nibs of candied rose. I’ve not heard of this chocolatier before but this is a really nice chocolate with a bright sheen and a good snap, although the flavour, logically, takes a backseat to the rose. There’s also mint and lavender versions of this confection, and the lavendar one is very pretty, and not at all soapy or overpowering.
Some people say Disney is the happiest place on earth. I’d say those people are wrong. I have proof that the happiest place on earth is on Queen Street East, just past the Don River, where Mary Macleod and her small team of bakers make the very best shortbread ever.
Don’t believe me? Take James’ Beard’s word for it – on a visit to Toronto in the early 80s, the acclaimed chef declared Macleod’s shortbread the best he’s ever tasted.
Mcleod emigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1955 when she got married. She shares a story of meeting her mother-in-law for the first time; her reputation for being a great cook had preceded her, and her mother-in-law had asked that she bake an apple pie. Not used to the differences in North American flour compared to the softer, more delicate products used in Europe, Macleod’s pastry was a disaster, and she set about researching the different flours and how she could add other natural ingredients to manipulate the dough to work more like the European products she was used to.
I kind of hate Valentine’s Day. In a world where we should all be saying “I love you” any chance we can get, or where buying a partner flowers or candy should/could be a regular occurrence, there’s just way too much pressure to fill one particular day with a year’s worth of romance and caring. And because most people are out of practice when it comes to showing others that they care about them, they fall back on “tradition” (aka. the tacky and clichéd). So while, in truth, I don’t have too much problem with a heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates (I actually like the orange creams), so much of what falls into the standard Valentine’s Day gift list (a dozen red roses, champagne, romantic dinner for two) sort of makes me retch. Or at least roll my eyes and groan – and not in a good way.
Now while I can’t help readers with the other issues aside from advising that a gift that suits the recipient’s tastes is better than a gift that is simply “traditional” (ie. buy a cool plant or a bouquet of their favourite flower instead of those tacky roses; skip the teddy bear unless the giftee is under the age of 10; and wait until Sunday and go for a lovely brunch instead of getting shafted on an overpriced V-Day dinner…), I am able to recommend some non-traditional sweets and candies that show a lot more thought and creativity than a gift picked up at the gas station.
In an era when restaurants and food shops come and go, it’s difficult to remember food trends from even a couple of years ago, let alone decades or centuries. But everybody eats – preferably three times a day – and over the years, the changes that have taken place in terms of food in Toronto are vast.
Curated by librarian Sheila Carleton of the Special Collections, Genealogy & Maps Centre, the idea for the exhibit came about because of the opportunity to restore some historical cookbooks in the TRL’s collection. “In 2006, the Toronto Reference Library was invited to apply for a grant from the Culinary Trust for restoration of up to 4 historical cookbooks in our collection,” explains Carleton. “Our application was accepted and two local conservators were commissioned to carry out the work. As it is an honour to be invited to apply for the grant, we thought that the public would be interested in seeing these and other cookbooks in our collection.”
A friend contacted me recently looking for advice on where to find a kitchen scale. He was making beer and needed to measure various ingredients by weight.
The average home cook doesn’t really need a scale unless they’re working with dishes that need precise measurements or do a lot of baking. In chef’s school, we measured all baking ingredients by weight instead of the Imperial “cups” system to help ensure a level of quality control on our finished products. In countries that have fully adapted to the metric system, all recipe ingredients are measured in grams, so a kitchen scale might also be useful for people who cook from any UK cookbooks.
The other and more popular use for a home kitchen scale is for health and nutrition purposes – to measure out exact amounts of foods to help in following a specific diet.