Bowled Over

Last Wednesday evening, the line-up outside the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art stretched as far north as Bloor Street. People had come prepared; many had snacks, drinks and umbrellas to shield them from the warm May sunshine, because to be first in line meant having the dedication to wait for hours to get in. But being first in line also meant having first choice when selecting a bowl, as well as getting to the variety of soups from the participating local chefs before they all ran out. And they would run out.

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On the Shelf – May 24, 2009

Here’s a few new things we came across this month that are definitely worth sharing.

Margaret’s Artisan Bakery Crisps
We came across these at the Ontario Cheese Society tasting in late April. Better known for their Margaret’s Artisan Flatbreads, these organic flour crisps from MJ Fine Foods are made in Vaughn and come in a variety of flavours that pair wonderfully with cheese, pate or dips. I’ve been treating them like the British version of “crisps” and have been eating them like chips. Favourite flavours include rosemary pistachio, mango curry and cashew, caramel apricot almond and cranberry pumpkin seed. They retail for around $5 a box and are available at gourmet food shops.

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On the Shelf – April 26th

As someone with a love of food, I’m always poking around in shops looking for new things to taste and try. And to share. On the Shelf is a new (-ish – we did one back in December) monthly feature in which we share our great food finds for the month.

Alphanso Mangoes
If you’ve never eaten an Alphanso mango, you don’t know what you’re missing. Not to be confused with the Mexican Atulfo mango which can be found in grocery stores from late February onwards, Alphanso mangoes come from southern India and are available only from early April to mid May. In Toronto, they can usually only be found is various shops in Little India, so head on over to Gerrard Street East and stop by Toronto Cash and Carry(1405 Gerrard Street East) or Koohinoor Foods (1438 Gerrard Street East) to try some. Alphansos are generally available by the box only (either a half or whole dozen) and 12 of them will run somewhere around $24. At $2 a piece – and smaller than the Atulfo, this might seem like an exorbitant price until you taste them, and then all other mangoes will be dead to you. A combination of floral and spice, Alphanso mangoes are juicy, heady and fragrant. (I’ve recently found canned Alphanso mangoes at my local supermarket – will report on those next month.)

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Canned Goods and Tinfoil Hats

Greg thinks I’m a bit of a weirdo for laying claim to a section of shelf space in the closet to create a pantry. After Hurricane Katrina, although we are nowhere near New Orleans, or any hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, forestfire or landslide danger zone, I got all “emergency preparedness” crazy. Because shit could still happen. It might be another big power outage, like we had in ’03, or an icestorm or an attack by Tara. Or, more likely, it could be an influenza pandemic that shuts the whole city down.

During “the SARS”, I was going for allergy shots every week, and had to do the whole handwash, mask, questionnaire deal just to get in to see the nurse (my doctor’s office is inside a hospital), so I’m familiar with the protocol. And the paranoia. That was bad enough, but a flu pandemic would be even worse.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks of these things. The Toronto Star is reporting on a conference held by Canadian Grocers to ensure that grocery stores and supermarkets are prepared for something such as a flu pandemic. Turns out, most of them really aren’t.

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