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


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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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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Stirring the Pot with Chef Jesse Vallins

Jesse Vallins is a native of Toronto and has spent the last 12 years working in some of the city’s best restaurants. He has spent the last four years as the chef at Trevor Kitchen and Bar (38 Wellington Street East).

What inspired you to become a chef?

For as long as I can remember I’ve fallen asleep and woken up thinking about food. I love eating and sharing food with people and the experience of restaurants. I don’t care if it’s Canoe (66 Wellington Street West) or a dive in Chinatown, all restaurants are as much about experience as eating. I’ve always loved that and wanted to be a part of it.

What is your favourite dish at the restaurant where you cook and why?

The bacon and tomato salad with avocado ranch and crispy shallots. I love it because it’s got a great mix of different flavours and textures that really work together…and it’s absolutely lousy with bacon.

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What’s On the Table – In Pictures

Okay, so I know you readers are divided on the topic of event recaps. Some of you hate them, preferring an event preview instead so you can actually buy a ticket and go – and for the most part, I agree. Who wants to hear about all the fun they missed? But others of you love the food pr0n, the piles of photos of gorgeously executed food and drink, particularity at events with higher ticket prices that might not be affordable to most.

Here’s our take on this – since the fancy events are usually charity fund-raisers we have no problem running a photo-essay after the fact, because it raises more awareness of the issues and the charity (even though the event is over, I’m sure The Stop would be happy to accept any donations our readers might want to make). And it also helps to promote the many wonderful restaurants that donated their time and product to such a worthy cause.

So if you hate the recaps, look away, and we’ll use the same images when we write the event preview article next year! But if you want to see the tasty treats offered to What’s on the Table guests, click on through and enjoy.

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Where Can I Find – Blintzes

My first experience with Jewish food was at an old Spadina landmark called Switzer’s. I lived in Kensington Market, and Switzer’s (which was one of a handful of Jewish delis in downtown that survived into the 80s) was right around the corner. It was here that I discovered the wonders of latkes, smoked meat sandwiches, egg creams and my beloved blintzes.

I remember that I ordered on a guess, going only by the description and an assurance from the waitress that they were delicious. When the ricotta and cream cheese-filled crepes arrived with their side dish of blueberry sauce, I was hooked, and for the remaining years that I lived in the market, I was a regular at the Jewish restaurants in the ‘hood, from KOS to the Bagel and Free Times Cafe.

As the delis got crowded out and moved on, blintzes became harder to find downtown. They don’t show up on the menu of the average greasy spoon; they’re one of those things that requires some hunting. I’ve been having a craving recently, and this is what I uncovered.

As the last Jewish deli holdout in the Spadina area, The Free Times Cafe (320 College Street) is probably a good place to start in a search for blintzes. In addition to their Sunday brunch buffet (which includes blintzes, latkes and gefilte fish), blintzes appear on their regular menu, both alone and combined with latkes (be still my heart!).

I’ve never tried the blintzes at United Bakers Dairy Restaurant (506 Lawrence Avenue West), but they’ve gotten very postive feedback on local food forums.

The blintzes at Dunn’s (284A King Street West) are passable in a pinch, although based on a review we did of brunch, their other breakfast offering might not be up to par.

I came across some Internet buzz that Canoe (66 Wellington Street West, 54th floor)  used to serve a dessert blintz stuffed with ricotta and hazelnut, but it no longer appears on their online menu.

Sadly, that seems to be it. The now defunct Shopsy’s used to serve blintzes, and I’m pretty certain that I once, years ago, had them at Fran’s in the middle of the night, but they’re off the menu there now.

It’s kind of a pitiful list, really, and makes me sad for the loss of the many downtown delis that shaped my love of Jewish food. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Free Times, though, so a visit there for blintzes is on my to-do list in the coming weeks.