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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Lucky Dip – Monday, October 17th, 2011

You know that theory about doing one thing well? Tim Horton’s doesn’t believe it. Now with more … lasagna? [Toronto Star]

Dear processed meat manufacturers… do you really think that informed consumers are stupid enough to be tricked by you calling your products “natural”? [Globe and Mail]

The logistics of Cask Days. Raise a pint to the guys at barVolo. [Toronto Sun]

When it comes to pastry shops, vegan is still a dirty word, even if things like vegan cupcakes look and taste the same (or better) than those with eggs and dairy. [Wall Street Journal]

Despite all the recent furor over deal coupons, some restaurants still think of them as a great way to advertise, even if it comes at a loss. [Toronto Star]

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The 21st Century Comes to Chinatown


369 Spadina Avenue
Dinner for two with all taxes, tip and soda: $50

I have a special place in my heart for Chinatown. Particularly on hot summer nights when the smell of black bean sauce, fryer grease, half dead crabs and that special rotting garbage smell of durian all combine to remind me of my youth. Twenty years ago, I wandered these streets, young, naive and fresh off the plane from the land of pork chops and two overcooked veg. Living in Chinatown was a huge culture shock, and my roommates and I delighted in wandering Spadina and Dundas West, watching the restaurant ladies pushing bins of raw chicken feet from the many slaughterhouses, and bringing home odd fruits or noodles, seeking guidance from our neighbour Mei Ling on what to do with the stuff.

We managed to eat at a lot of restaurants along the Spadina strip as well. The fluorescent lights and plastic table cloths were de rigeur at all of these joints, and not much has changed. The food is always cheap and usually good, but ambiance is generally low on the list in this part of town. Which is why I was so surprised by E-Pan.

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I’ve fallen off the wagon. I blame Greg – he fell first and dragged me down with him.

I did make a resolution that I would “sample” things when I had the chance, just for the sake of expanding my palate and increasing my knowledge about food. I’ve been doing that when the opportunity arose, but with little enthusiasm; the proscuitto and salami I had at the Green Link event didn’t wow me, the burger Greg ate last week grossed me out (I spit out the tiny bite I tried), and the massive brontosaurus-sized ribs he ate for lunch on Saturday made me think that I had maybe just lost the taste for meat. I got them down and it wasn’t gross, but it wasn’t a pleasant taste – just kind of… dank. Maybe that’s why ribs need so much sauce – to cover up the yukky grey taste.

Then we wandered into St. Lawrence Market and a nice man handed me free proscuitto.

I always had this running joke that I’d like to be a proscuittotarian. Pescetarians are folks who eat fish, but are otherwise vegetarian, pollo-vegetarians eat chicken. I wanted to be able to eat proscuitto. And somehow I always knew that proscuitto would be my downfall.

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The Meat of the Matter

So back at the end of December I came up with a list of “foodie resolutions” for 2007. While I have been fairly slack about trying to do everything on my list – I have yet to find the time to make a souffle, for instance – I did have the opportunity on Monday to cross one thing off.

Greg and I attended a conference put together by the Toronto Slow Food chapter and part of the event included a free buffet lunch. One of my foodie resolutions was to break my vegetarianism and try small samples of meat at events like this in an effort to expand/retain my palate.

Now all through the seven years that I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve still eaten fish. I try and go off it every couple of years or so, more because of the issue of overfishing than of eating an animal (I’m sorry, I know animal rights activists would call me a hypocrite, but I just can’t look at an oyster or a lobster and equate it with a deer or a cow), but I inevitably come back to it. I like to joke that you can take the girl our of Nova Scotia, but you can’t take Nova Scotia out of the girl, but jokes aside, pescetarianism was always as far as I was willing to go. However, even though I still eat fish, I was still under the impression that meat would make me quite ill.

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