Poor old much maligned corn. It gets a bit of a bad rap these days, seeing as how it ends up in so many processed foods, and how it’s been genetically modified up the yin yang. And then there’s the whole ethanol issue. It’s too bad, because there’s nothing that says summer more than ears of sweet corn with the silks still wet, shucked, kissed with some boiling water and then slathered in butter. Made better only by the accompaniment of a lobster or two… but I digress.
Maize, as corn is properly known (the term “corn” is an English word for any cereal crop), is native to the Americas where it has been used for some 12,000 years. Maize made its way to the eastern seaboard and Canada somewhere around 1000 AD. Native Americans planted corn alongside beans and squash, a system known as the Three Sisters, as the plants were all complimentary, providing shade, nutrients and support in a system that provided optimum growth potential.
Continue reading “Market Mondays – Corn”
Milestones Festival Hall
132 John Street
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $45
Regular readers will notice a dearth of references to mainstream chain restaurants on this site. When we started TasteTO, that wasn’t our intention – our aim was to cover anything and everything related to food, including the mid-range family-oriented chains, because we wanted to reflect how real people eat. Somehow the middle got lost between the two extremes of cool, high end places, and “hole-in-the-wall, best X ever” low end joints. And, well, because the middle more often than not ends up being mediocre. This isn’t always the case – I once had an outstanding steak at Jack Astor’s, and both Greg and I recall having had a passably decent meal at Milestones, which is how we ended up there on a recent Sunday morning when we had errands to run nearby.
The first thing we notice about the place is just how big everything is. The menus are huge and we joke to the server that she never needs to lift weights, she must get a workout just carrying around these huge books. The ceiling is high – meant to be soaring and impressive, no doubt, but then the light fixtures are also massive. The coffee cups, glasses, cutlery and plates – also huge, and I can’t help wondering what the psychology behind this is. Because places like this are designed with an intended “experience” in mind. Are we supposed to feel that everything is lush and grand? Or is there some psychology that is supposed to make us feel small and insignificant?
Continue reading “Sunday Brunch – Milestones”
Summer squash (aka. zucchini) can be both a delight and a bane to home gardeners. A delight because zucchini are a fruitful fruit (while treated as a vegetable in the kitchen, zucchini and all squash are technically fruit) – they’re easy to grow and the fruit grows quickly, they’re also a bane because they’re almost too prodigious and home gardeners tend to find themselves with more zucchini than they know what to do with. In the peak of the season some will even take to leaving bags of summer squash on their neighbours’ doorsteps under cover of night just to get rid of some of their harvest.
Curcubita pepo is a member of the melon family, with distant relations to the cucumber. Squash originated in the Americas and was introduced to Europe by Columbus. The zucchini that we know today is a variety of squash that was developed in Italy. While there are a variety of different shapes and sizes of summer squash (ranging in shape from the spaceship-looking patty pan to round fruit the size of billiard balls), they can all be treated as one would a zucchini for cooking purposes.
While it’s tempting for home gardeners to let their zucchini grow huge (and they will get massive if you let them), the squash actually taste and cook best when picked at 20cm in length or less. Overly-mature fruit can be both fibrous and watery.
Continue reading “Market Mondays – Summer Squash”
999 Eglinton Avenue West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $50
We know our readers love the brunch reviews, but after a while it can all get a little tedious. Hollandaise sauce now runs in my veins. So we were delighted to head up to Eglinton Avenue and check out the brunch offerings at Frida.
This upscale Mexican restaurant is run by chef Jose Hadad, and besides a really interesting dinner menu, offers a diverse brunch card full of Mexican favourites.
We start with some of Hadad’s famous guacamole and chips ($10) – both made in house and available for sale to take home. Beautifully presented and drizzled with chili oil, it’s easy to see why Hadad’s Mad Mexican line does so well. Our server also brings us each a small dish full of chunks of melon and pineapple, a fruit amuse bouche, which is a lovely touch.
Continue reading “Sunday Brunch – Frida Restaurant”
Like our friend the plum from last week, the apricot is from the family Prunus. Originally thought to originate in China from as far back as 3000 BC, the apricot came to the Western world via Armenia. Apricots are now cultivated in all parts of the world, but are still an extremely important crop in the Middle East, particularly Iran where dried apricots have been an important commodity for centuries. Check the packaging on dried apricots you purchase in the supermarket – they likely come from Iran or Turkey.
Apricots are high in beta-carotene as well as Vitamin A. They are high in fibre and the dried version of the fruit is considered a good treatment for constipation. High in the anti-oxidant caretenoid, apricots may help lower bad cholesterol and protect against cancer. The kernal or pit of the apricot also has many uses; dried and ground, it becomes the basis for the Italian amaretti cookie, and apricot kernal oil is the main ingredient in the liqueur Disaronno Amaretto. Apricot kernal was also once incorrectly thought to cure certain types of cancer, but because it contains toxic levels of cyanide, it was not considered an effective treatment for that disease.
When purchasing apricots, look for fruits that are a rich orange colour and that are slightly soft to the touch. If eating apricots for their health benefits, note that the riper the fruit the higher the level of anti-oxidants.
Continue reading “Market Mondays – Apricots”
Many Torontonians have walked past it without even knowing that it’s there. Maybe the people who go there for the salsa dancing also have a bit to eat. But for the most part, Babaluu Supperclub (136 Yorkville Avenue) flies under the radar when it comes to dining. Which is too bad, because owners Nubia Solano and Pilar Galvis have put a lot of work into the “supper” part of their Latin supperclub.
Opened in 1994 in a space on Bloor West, the restaurant moved to its current location in 1996 when the original building went bankrupt. Solano, who was working with Trevor Berryman of Bersani & Carlevale fame, had put a lot of work into the decor of the original space and brought many of the gorgeous glass murals with her when they had to move a few years later.
Continue reading “Babaluu – More Than Just Salsa Dancing”
We ate some fine and tasty stuff this month. Have a look…
First up, I attended the A9 Fenadegas Winemaker’s lunch at C5, featuring wines from Portugal.
This BC wild halibut cheek and scallion pancake were paired with a Veercoope Via Latina Alvarinha 2009, as well as a Adega Pegos selected Harvest 2009.
Continue reading “SalivAte – July 2010”
Hubert DMello was born in Mumbai, India where he graduated from Hotel Management in 1984. He ran a catering business in Mumbai from 1985 to 1990, when he moved to the US and joined Carnival Cruise Lines as a bartender. He eventually moved to Atlanta and opened an Indian restaurant and then moved the business to Jackson Heights in New York. After a successful run in New York, he moved to Toronto to be with his wife in 1996.
Over the years he travelled to India and learnt new Indian cuisines and cooking techniques.
After few stints in the food industry, he opened his first vegetarian restaurant in Toronto called Udupi Palace in September 2001, and is now in the process of opening a second restaurant on Gerrard Street called Nitya, which should be open by the end of July 2010.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Since the age of 16 in the catering business in India, I fell in love with food and cooking. I always wanted to experiment and learn; the kitchen has been my comfort zone, so to speak.
Continue reading “Stirring the Pot with Hubert DMello”
We’re still in the family Prunus as we move from last week’s cherries to this week’s plums. Plums are eaten from Asia to Europe and are well known for their variety and flavour – from the first tart yellow plums to red, black and the purple varieties most popular in Italian cooking. Worldwide there are over 2000 varieties of the fruit with about 100 available in North America.
Plums are a versatile fruit; they can be made into jam or used in desserts, but can also be made into wine, pickled, dried and salted, or dried into prunes (although the black prunes available in stores are from a specific type of plum). They even work well on pizza with cheese and prosciutto in place of the traditional figs.
Considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, plums are high in anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, fibre (prunes are a recommended treatment for constipation) and potassium.
Continue reading “Market Mondays – Plums”
492 Queen Street West
brunch for two with all taxes tip and coffee: $45
La Palette is now considered a Kensington Market landmark, serving up classic French food in an adorable little bistro. So fans were rightly pleased when owners Shamez Amlani and Brook Kavanagh announced they’d be taking over the old Taro location to open a second La Palette.
The space is far more open than during the days of Taro – gone are the heavy booths; wooden tables are draped with pretty fabric and the exposed brick walls are covered in French posters and prints. The back skylight makes up for the lack of a patio, as the room is filled with sunlight.
Our server is friendly and patient, particularly given that I’m visibly upset since I’ve just had a run in with a man on the streetcar who was convinced that everyone attending the Pride parade was going to hell. (No… really. And no, despite my better judgment, I didn’t clock the guy.) Coffee and glasses of water arrive swiftly, and we’re able to settle down and peruse the menu.
Continue reading “Sunday Brunch – La Palette”