Join Me For Dinner – May 5th at The Depanneur

smallcanfood

So the brilliant folks at The Depanneur have started a cool weekly new program called Table Talks where they invite people involved in the Toronto food scene – from farmers and producers to local food writers – to drop by each week for an hour-long informal “around the kitchen table” sort of talk. Owner Len Senater cooks up something tasty and everyone shares a meal while discussing a pre-determined issue or topic related to that week’s guest.

I’ll be the featured guest on Tuesday, May 5th from 7 – 8pm where I’ll be talking about Canadian long-form food writing; specifically the lack of diverse voices and foodways in Canadian food writing and why we should all care about not just keeping the food stories of our past alive but why we should be expanding our views to encompass all Canadians.

There will be copies of Stained Pages Press titles for sale and a stack of my favourite Canadian food books to peruse. Not sure what Len is planning on cooking up just yet, but it’s guarantee to be tasty and inexpensive.

The Depanneur is at 1033 College Street, and the talk takes place on Tuesday May 5th at 7pm.

I hope to see you there!

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Lucky Dip – Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In Toronto:

Keriwa Cafe (1690 Queen Street West) had updated their website. All the better to see their monthly menu updates.

Chef Justin Cournoyer’s new restaurant Actinolite (971 Ossington Avenue) opens to the public tomorrow (Wednesday, March 28th) serving up a menu with Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences.

Basilio Pesce of Oliver & Bonacini has left Biff’s Bistro (4 Front Street East) to open his own restaurant in Parkdale.

Mabel’s Bakery (323 Roncesvalles Avenue) is expanding with a new location coming to 1156 Queen Street West.

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Lucky Dip – Friday, March 23rd, 2012

In Toronto:

Canadian Beer News reports that the Mill Street Airport Pub will open on Monday, March 26th at Pearson’s Terminal 1.

Happy Anniversary to Centro (2472 Yonge Street), the restaurant celebrates 25 years in business this year. Plans are in the works for a blow-out party in November – get yourself on the mailing list.

Corks at Longos (15 York Street) will be tapping their first cask on April 13th. The brew is reportedly a hop bomb from Black Oak Brewing.

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

In Toronto:

It’s Pi day and Sadie’s Diner (504 Adelaide Street West) is giving out free slices of pie with every meal.

The line-up has been announced for Luminato, Toronto’s annual culture and arts festival. Watch for the 1000 Tastes of Toronto event to take place on June 9th and 10th at The Distillery District.

April is looking to be all about dining out for charity with Stop For Food running at various restaurants from April 1st – 30th ($5 added to your bill will go to The Stop) and A Taste For Life taking place at restaurants all over town (and the country!) on April 25th (25% of the cost of your meal will be donated to Fife House). Best to start planning now.

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Lucky Dip – Friday, March 9th, 2012

In Toronto:

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.

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Lucky Dip – Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In Toronto:

Chef Anthony Rose announced yesterday via The Grid that he’ll be leaving The Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) at the end of the month to open a place of his own. Darren Glew, who has been at The Drake for the past five years, will take over the kitchen.

Simple Bistro (619 Mount Pleasant Road) had rolled out a new spring menu. Chef Matthew Cowan is offering up lots of tasty local fare such as rainbow trout, Grey County rabbit with prunes (put this in my belly now!), venison tartare and mushroom crepe. And brunch offers something called “The Cure” which is not Fat Bob singing Lovecats, but looks instead like the ultimate fry-up with eggs, bacon, sausage and duck confit hash.

Emma’s Country Kitchen (1108 St. Clair Avenue West) is not open yet, but hopes to be serving salads, sandwiches, soups, brunch and pastries to the folks of Corso Italia within the next couple of months.

The folks at Slow Food Toronto are looking for volunteers to help out at The Green Living Show (April 13th – 15th) at the Farm Fresh Fare area they run each year. People who help out and work a 3-hour shift will get a free pass to the show and some food tickets to try some of the food prepared by local chefs.

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Lucky Dip – Monday, February 27th, 2012

In Toronto:

Kensington Market icon European Quality Meats and Sausages (176 Baldwin Avenue) will be closing down on April 7th. Full story at the Toronto Star.

Also in Kensington, Thirsty and Miserable has opened at 197 Baldwin Street. With a “culinary team” listed as Swansen and Deep Freeze, maybe don’t go expecting anything more than booze and great local craft beer.

Chef Greg Couillard is back in town, serving up Nonya cuisine tonight at The Depanneur (1033 College Street). There were still tickets left as of this morning.¬† Couillard revealed to guests at last night’s dinner (which was fantastic!) that he plans to open a restaurant in Toronto’s west end, to be called Pink Slip. He’s also doing a guest stint from March 4- 6th at the Fox and Fiddle at Cityplace (25-17 Fort York Boulevard). (Yeah, I know, but that’s what the man said.)

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This Little Piggy Went to the Rusholme Park Supper Club

It’s probably inappropriate of me, but I’m in the middle of reading a cookbook on Appalachian food, and attending a dinner featuring 9 different pork items on the same weekend meant that there were more than a few quotes from Deliverance being spouted at Jason Rees’ Porknography dinner at the Rusholme Park Supper Club this past weekend.

Jason and sous chef Jamie (aka. The Pork Ninjas) promised us a 3×3 dinner (3 courses with 3 different pork items at each course) and they did not fail to deliver.

We started with the weirdest bit first, as The Pork Ninjas served up pork cheek, something that carries a bit of squick value but is actually very delicate and tasty.

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

In Toronto:

Chefs on the move: Dustin Gallagher is leaving Grace (503 College Street) to travel, and will be replaced by Kevin Castonguay, formerly of Woodlot. Sous chef Misha Nestreneko takes over the stoves at Marben (488 Wellington Street West) now that Carl Heinrich has left to open his own place.

William Serre from Acadia Restaurant (50C Clinton Street) and Andrew Wilson, Chef de Cuisine at Colborne Lane (45 Colborne Street) took top honours last night at the Nella Cucina Discovered Culinary Competition.

I keep hearing¬† the voice of Tichina Arnold from the TV show Everybody Hates Chris, but L’Unita Enoteca (134 Avenue Road) can now boast “my restaurant has 7 desserts!” Mike Angeloni (who has previously done pastry for Spendido and the Hoof restaurants) has created a dessert menu of Italian favourites; doughnuts, cannoli, biscotti… yum.

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Lucky Dip – Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In Toronto:

The Cheese Boutique has announced the line-up for their annual Festival of Chefs, which takes place each weekend in May. The event features local chefs including Rocco Agostino (Enoteca Sociale, Pizzeria Libretto), Victor Barry (Splendido) and Rob Gentile (Buca) doing in-store demos and samplings. Check the website for the full schedule.

Just opened – Bazaar Global Food (692 Mount Pleasant Road), where Amaya‘s Hermant Bhagwani has transformed the old Lai Toh Heen location into a family-friendly restaurant with a globally-sourced menu. [Full coverage at The Grid.]

Woodlot (293 Palmerston Avenue) has been given the go-ahead to proceed with its tiny 5-person patio, but other restaurants adjacent to residential areas and seeking patio permission will have to wait. Campagnolo, Dark Horse (Queen West) and Cafe Stella‘s applications have all been deferred to March or April.

Vegetarian restaurant Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods (666 Dundas Street West) will be closed from February 23rd – March 7th for renovations.

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Mambo Vegan Italiano!

When I interviewed Len Senater of The Depanneur (1033 College Street) a few months ago, he was adamant that the space wouldn’t just be a cafe serving coffee and toast. That was to be its daytime persona, but he also wanted the space to be home to the Rusholme Park Supper Club, a pop-up type restaurant that hosted byob events. It took some doing, but now that The Depanneur is open and running smoothly, Senater has progressed to the point where they’ve started doing dinners.

One of the first in the October series took place last Friday, when Emily Zimmerman took over the kitchen to prepare a vegan Italian dinner meant to evoke the casual Beatnik gatherings of the 1950s when even the most basic of Italian cuisine was considered avant garde.

Guests paid $40 for a 1-day “membership” to the supper club, and brought their own beverages to the 3-course meal, which is how the Depanneur gets around licensing issues.

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The Gung Ho Food Race

At this moment, I am sitting on six… no, eight different bits of Toronto restaurant news/gossip that I cannot share. I can’t share them for a number of reasons, either because I’ve specifically been asked not to until the restaurant is ready to formally announce their news, or because what I know is unconfirmed gossip and I’m still working on fleshing out the story.

It is my job to find out (factual) restaurant news. And I love my job; I love the excitement that chefs and customers have when a new place opens, I love watching the buzz spread, I love seeing the reviews roll in. What I don’t love – and this is why I’m sitting on all of these secrets – is when we all jump the gun, or get way too excited about a potential new restaurant or project before it’s even opened.

Case in point: the David Chang thing. I’m as enthusiastic as anyone for a David Chang restaurant; he’s considered one of the best chefs in the world. But didn’t we all look pathetically desperate a couple of months back when gossip spread and then the news was confirmed that Chang would be opening restaurants here… in late 2012? Standing back and watching the frenzy from a safe distance, anybody would think that Torontonians had never eaten anything fancier than Kraft Dinner and bagged salad, so desperate were we for Chang’s noodles and pork buns. Could we even be trusted in a fine dining restaurant? Were we familiar with those crazy things they call “utensils”?

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