The Proof of the Pudding is in the Judging

When people joke that they’re jealous of my job, I remind them that’s it’s not always fun. Sometimes I have to eat things that are gross and unappetizing, and sometimes I get to eat stuff that, while delicious, can get to be overwhelming. Or sometimes it can be both gross and overwhelming – as in the case when I ate 7 different styles of haggis in one sitting. Betcha nobody wanted my job THAT day.

So while I got comments and looks of envy when I told people that I’d be judging a sticky toffee pudding contest, I don’t know that anybody would really have wanted to take my place. I did, after all, eat 4 portions of sticky toffee pudding, with a different beer for each one.

Okay, to be fair, I shared my portions with Greg and we didn’t finish them all, but still… we came home yesterday feeling a little ooky from all the sugar.

But it really was worth it. Most people think of sticky toffee pudding with a smile on their faces, but who could have known there was such diversity in what was being served in Toronto restaurants. Light to dark, fluffy to dense, the puds ran the gamut.

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SalivAte – Toronto Beer Week Edition

By all accounts Toronto Beer Week was a resounding success. Many beers were consumed, and there were some outstanding beer dinners and other food pairing events that took place at restaurants across the city. Greg made it out to more of them than I did (stupid allergies), so many of the photos here are his (which explains why they might get a touch out of focus as we go through each course, as pretty much every one of these dishes came with an accompanying beer pairing.)

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One City, One Table

It could have been, truly, a clusterfuck, but the weather gods and organizing gods shined down on the One City One Table event today at the Distillery District. Part of the Luminato arts festival, this food fair took over a whole block with one long table down the centre, and local restaurants offering tastings and street food items for $5 a pop along one side.

While it was busy, it wasn’t stupid packed, and there was very little wait time at each booth to get the food. Most chefs had put some thought into their offerings so it was mostly hand-held stuff like sandwiches, tacos or things that didn’t need a fork and knife.

Enamoured of the food as I was, I completely missed getting a shot of the 500-seat table, although it was never all full at once as people kept getting up and moving around as they tried new things. I missed photographing a few things that we tried and really enjoyed like the baked perogies from Chef Nathan Isberg at Coca, and the braised hangar steak sandwich from Chef Ted Corrado at C5.

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Not So Many Fish in the Sea

seachoiceoysters

There’s an old cliché that goes “there are plenty of fish in the sea”. This is meant to convey options and opportunities, but nowadays, it’s not a particularly apt analogy. Because fish stocks are dwindling due to poor husbandry and overfishing, and there aren’t a lot of fish in the sea anymore.

SeaChoice is a program by Sustainable Seafood Canada designed to mobilize consumers and industry to buy sustainable seafood, which is caught or farmed with consideration for the ocean’s ecological balance and the long-term viability of the fish. SeaChoice offers guidance to restaurants and consumers on what to buy and what to avoid.

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The Ruined Oysters

So another Summerlicious event has come and gone. I continue to be underwhelmed. This bi-annual event where Toronto restaurants offer a super-cheap prix fixe meal continues to deserve its bad rap – both in regards to cheapo customers and craptacular service.

I only did two restaurants this year, figuring it was all I could handle. Our experience at Starfish, a local oyster joint, would have gone perfectly had it not been for the service at the table next to us.

Our regular waiter was obviously one of those rare lifelong professionals and the service we received from him was exemplary. Even though we were there for the cheap lunch, he was perfect. Not so the gal who was assisting him when things got busy.

One of the appetizers was a plate of raw oysters – four oysters and two scallops to be specific. It came with lemon, horseradish and some nasty seafood sauce type thing. It was probably made in-house, but it was too reminiscent of the stuff people serve at holiday parties with a defrosted shrimp ring.

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