Sunday, November 22, 2009
I didn't go see Jamie Oliver today at Roy Thomson Hall, but we (Darcy actually) coincidentally made an Oliver recipe for dinner. We saw Jamie make it on the Food Network this morning and I couldn't think about anything else. It was called "Pan-Fried Game with a Delicate Pearl Barley, Pea and Lettuce Stew," but we didn't have access to partridges, so we used chicken (legs and breast) and it was amazing. The pan-fried poultry is served on top of a kind of barley and pea risotto with fresh lettuce mixed in at the last minute. So good. You can fin the recipe here.
Friday, November 20, 2009
This is, without a doubt, my favourite post. I didn't initially plan on writing about this at all. I heard about Bob's campaign to get PFT here, but I thought it wasn't a necessarily "Toronto" story. I attended the show and completely fell in love with Paul within mere seconds. It was one of the best comedy shows I've ever seen, and I would put him right alongside Louis C.K. As the weeks went by after the show, all these new copycat Facebook groups started popping up, trying to do the same thing. At last count there were over thirty cities, mostly in North America, but also some as far as Sweden and Scotland! This was fast turning into something really big and it all started in our little city.
But, more than that, I was so happy for Bob. I feel like it must have taken so much courage to engage Paul, convince him to perform in Toronto, and take on the responsibility of making sure the audience showed up. It turned out better than he could have hoped and he even got to hang out with Paul after the show. I wish both Bob and Paul every success.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
My post about David Sax's excellent book, Save the Deli finally went up today on Torontoist. I wrote the first draft last week, but my editor rightly asked me to give it another looking over, at which point I realized it was awful. So, I started again from scratch and also asked one of Torontoist's illustrators, Sasha Plotnikova, to do an original illustration, which I think came out beautifully. David Sax himself even found the post just a few hours after it went up and re-posted it on his blog (yay!).
I read this book in one weekend and I was amazed by how much research and legwork went into it. I can't imagine doing that many interviews, let alone ones with people who are running busy delis and don't have much time to talk. His stamina continues to amaze me as I follow his blog, describing his exhausting book tour.
Everyone seems to be fixated on the book as a deli travel guide, but I think the best part of it is the historical details of Jews in North America that lend context to the current situation—the disappearance of traditional Jewish delis. The point that stuck with me was that the source of this cuisine was all but extinguished during the Holocaust. As Sax says in his book, "Delis are cooking from the fading memories of a time and place that no longer exist."
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Last night, I had my first live-blogging experience as my star photographer friend Ayngelina and I tried to faithfully record the weird and wonderful things we saw throughout the night at Nuit Blanche: http://torontoist.com/2009/10/blanche_slate_nuit_blanche_live.php. A note to anyone trying to do this in the future, you cannot count on free wifi, or even paid services like Boingo. I ended up texting my editor instead.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Photo by Ayngelina Brogan.
Monday, August 10, 2009
So, belatedly, here are the posts I wrote for the Fringe and SummerWorks (to date) for Torontoist:
Monday, June 29, 2009
Yesterday, Torontoist photographer Andrew Louis and I were so lucky to march in the 29th Annual Pride Parade with Heterosexuals for Same-Sex Equality. To do something a bit different, we took photos of the crowd instead of the floats to shine the spotlight on all the amazing people who came to show their support.
It was my very first time at the parade and I was overwhelmed. Everyone there was smiling, dancing, laughing, and cheering. Makes me tear up to think about it. Happy Pride to everyone!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
These vendors are working incredibly hard. Young Jin Kim and her son, Simon, are downtown at 9 a.m. every day to pick up the cart. By ten, they're at Yonge and Eglinton and they stay until 9 p.m., after which Kim goes to her restaurant to do the dishes and prepare for the next day. These guys deserve all the help they can get. Please support them.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
My post about Toronto Taste, Second Harvest's biggest yearly fundraiser, went up on Torontoist this morning, and happily just got linked in the Globe & Mail.
It was a star-studded event with many celebrity chefs and Food Network personalities, including Mark McEwan (Second Harvest's ambassador), Marc Thuet, Michael Smith, Laura Calder, Bob Blumer, Brad Long, and Donna Dooher. My girl, Olivia Bolano, was also there making her debut at Toronto Taste as Executive Chef of All the Best Fine Foods.
I was so intimidated to talk to Mark McEwan and Marc Thuet, but they were both extremely accomodating. McEwan talked to me at length about how devoted he is to Second Harvest, and how he does everything he can to help them, using his incredible influence in the industry.
We almost didn't talk to Marc Thuet, but as we were leaving we caught him having a cigarette with one of his cooks outside the grounds. In real life, he is as magnificent as a lion, and I think Ayngelina captured that so well in her photograph (see the post).
Debra Hubner from Second Harvest told us that 1200 people were in attendance that night, making over $250,000 for the charity.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
To research this piece, I spent several hours at their bustling kitchen in the basement of the YMCA, talking to the director, Kelvin Ramjattan, and instructors. All of them are former restaurant cooks and two of them, Dan Prewer and Adam Lariviere, left restaurants less than two years ago to begin teaching. What blew me away was how much they care about their students and mentor them to not only cook, but also cope with working and life in general. They help them figure out how to deal with conflicts, stress, gossip, language barriers, money, and countless other things.
Seeing these chefs run this kind of program day in and day out for 25 years is one of the most hopeful sights I've ever witnessed.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
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I haven't decided if I'm actually going to go or not, but I seem to have done a lot of research. Mmmmm. Can't resist.
If you'd like to plan out the rest of your rib summer, Darcy updated the calendar we made last year for 2009.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
We did a sort of "shop crawl" for about an hour followed by a sit-down dinner at MBCo. Pisces Gourmet had by far the most impressive display. They had an actual shark, a whole monkfish, and a gorgeous parrotfish, among many other things, all arranged beautifully in the cases. The fish were so fresh and bright-eyed that they really did look alive. And even though the shop had tonnes of product, it might as well have been a clothing store because it didn't smell fishy in the least. How fresh is that?
The shops were amazing too. These are all high end shops, so not cheap, but the quality is incredible.
My post about the shops went up this morning on Torontoist and it was picked to be linked on the Globe and Mail's Toronto hub. Eee!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Fans of the old Mildred's have dished out a lot of criticism on their new modern decor, but it's a fresh, clean, and airy space with very comfortable chairs, and the waitstaff don't pressure you to hurry up and leave (apologies to everyone waiting for a table this morning; we had too much fun catching up). And the food is flawless, as usual.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I went to this place a few times, but not recently. Their beef ribs were amazing (and enormous). I also liked the fried green tomatoes. Torontonians love barbecue and aside from Phil's Original, there really isn't anywhere to go. If any southerner came up here and started an authentic Carolina, Kansas, or Texas joint, they'd make a killing.
After poor little Zoe the chihuahua was abducted by a coyote in the Beaches in late February, media both near and far covered the story and solicited reams of passionate comments. In addition to local residents concerned with the safety of their pets and children, rural folks also weighed in reminding us that we’re not the only ones with a problem.
In the frenzied days immediately following the Zoe incident, the initial response was to euthanize the animal (dubbed “Neville” by local residents), but this tactic proved to be wildly unpopular, so they changed tack and decided to trap and relocate it humanely. Normally, the Ministry of Natural Resources advises that animals be moved no further than one kilometre from their origin because of the possibility of spreading disease (e.g. rabies) and the fact that beasties don’t do well when introduced into unfamiliar territory. For this particular case, Toronto Animal Services got special permission to move the coyote further away in order to get him outside city limits. (As of today, Neville still remains at large.)
The problem, as outlined by Owen Roberts in The Guelph Mercury and by some commenters, is that the country already has their fair share of coyotes that not only interfere with pets, but also with livestock (i.e. their livelihoods). Unwanted wildlife dumped in the countryside, especially urbanized animals that rely on humans for their food, most likely will either perish or seek out new hosts.
The end result is a quandary where wildlife is first being unintentionally domesticated, and then pushed into the narrowing spaces between all of us humans, city and country dwellers alike.
And coyotes aren’t even close to being the most populous wild species in the city. Kathleen Quinn, a supervisor at Toronto Animal Services, tells me that the top five (according to their numbers) are raccoons, squirrels, skunks, opossums, and groundhogs. The difference is that these animals are generally easier to live with and have not made off with anyone’s pets (yet).
When I asked Jolanta Kowalski, Senior Media Relations Officer at the Ministry of Natural Resources, if there is a province-wide plan for dealing with problematic species like coyotes, she told me “the best way to avoid problems with any wildlife is to remove any food attractants...and never feed them. Learning to peacefully co-exist with wildlife is always the preferred option.” So it seems all we can do is try to make our dumpsters and backyards less of a buffet, and hope these critters prefer the wild...or what's left of it.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Last week after an insanely exhausting and unhealthy month of working far too much, Darcy and I popped home to Nova Scotia for a quick holiday that involved lots of fresh sea air, walks along the coast looking at all the stuff that washed up, visiting family, and eating amazing food. If you're planning on visiting Nova Scotia, Halifax or otherwise, the best food really can only be eaten at someone's house. My advice would be to rent a place with kitchen facilities and a car and go out to buy your own lobster, crab, mussels, and smoked fish. Here is some of the best stuff we ate, in chronological order:
- Dim sum at Zen Chinese Cuisine in Clayton Park, Halifax. Awesome dim sum in a relaxed, sunny restaurant with menus only—no carts. My parents go every week.
- Lobster from Fisherman's Market. These were 1.5 pound hard shell; very tough to crack and full of meat. They were also selling jumbo lobsters that were two feet long. You could cook one and serve it like a turkey.
- Lobster roll made from leftover lobster tails, celery, mayo,and the whitest white hotdog buns.
- Prime rib roast with asparagus, Yorkshire pudding, and mushroom gravy. This is one my favourite mom foods that we haven't had in years. And we cooked it at Mom and Dad's new seaside house, which made it even more fun.
- Soba noodle soup made from 80% buckwheat noodles bought at Sanko Trading Co. in Toronto. One of my favourite things in the world.
- Japanese barbecue dinner: wakame salad, onigiri, and yakitori (I grilled the yakitori myself!)
- Smoked fish from Willy Krauch's in Tangier. We went to the actual smoking facility and it's a tiny little place with just a small stock available for sale in store, but they do a huge mail order business. They use wood and brick ovens with hardwood smoke and they made smoked trout, mackerel, eel, and two kinds of salmon: hot and cold. The cold is the raw type and the hot is chunks of smokey cooked salmon.
- Seafood Platter at Harbour Fish 'n' Fries in Musquodoboit Harbour. It's the best place for fish and chips in the world. They opened about 15-20 years ago as a chip truck that turned into a shack that they added onto and now they seat about 40 total (indoors and out), which is good because they're packed at lunchtime. They're open from April to November.
- Scallop pasta chez Mom and Dad. Only at home can you get as many scallops as you want. Yum.
- Dad's ramen. Made with egg white noodles and homemade pork stock and char siu.
- Mom's gyoza. Made with chopped pork (not ground), garlic chives, shiitake mushrooms, and napa cabbage.