Friday, July 26, 2013

Storing fruits & Vegetables - save the waste

Harvesting and storing home garden vegetables : Garden : University of Minnesota Extension

I picked up some fruits and vegetables from the farmer's market today and most of it is already ripe to the point of it not lasting very long.  I was looking for info on how to store cucumbers.  I always end up quick pickling them or throwing them out  and also things like lettuce and spinach.   I think most people end up throwing out half of their food because nobody really knows how to store things to make them last longer.  I think this is something kids should be taught in school.   We all waste way too much food.  I haven't been home much and decided to make a salad today with the fresh stuff I bought at the market but then proceeded to go through the fridge and find a whole bunch of other fruits and vegetables that were already rotten.

I am thinking that maybe I should create a workshop for people to learn how to store foods besides freezing and pickling.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jamie Oliver's Revolution against McDonald's Pink Slime processing

Jamie Oliver has been on a Revolution to get rid of dangerous processed food and this is why. This is also why I became one of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day Ambassador's.

I like the taste of McDonald's food unfortunately but every time I cave and eat it I feel disgusted with myself because I know better. The answer is what Jamie is doing, trying to get McDonald's to change their formulas back to the real food it was started with. A hamburger once in a while isn't going to kill you but if you eat these pink slime burgers and the GMO fries all the time it will.

Trying to figure out what to eat unless you grow it yourself is becoming tricky these days with all the hidden secrets in the food world. Jamie is trying to educate us so that we can make informed decisions about what we eat.

Really the only safe way to eat a burger is to get fresh beef from a reputable butcher and grind it yourself. But how many people are doing that these days? Yup.. I know.. so you have to choose wisely when you choose your food or restaurant.

I am the first one to tell you that's not always an easy thing and it sometimes depends on where you live as to what is available to eat in your area. I find that sometimes I have to leave my area to get decent food and I live in an area with a whole bunch of restaurants, but most are pretty much the same thing, rice or some cheap starch with low quality meat and very little fresh vegetables.

I try my best to balance what I do... I am far from perfect but I do try to get it right most of the time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Food trucks getting beat by bureaucracy | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun

Food trucks getting beat by bureaucracy | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun

Boo.  I like to see food trucks around.   When you are busy working , running around or you are alone you just want to grab something quick for lunch or dinner instead of the usual mods or pizza that's where food trucks come in.  If you want to go to a sit down restaurant you do.  They are not the same and do not compete.  Frankly sometimes the food on a food truck tastes better than some restaurants.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Taste of Italy comes to North York

There is a new Italian Street Food Restaurant that just opened up in North York (on York Mills and Leslie) in the little strip mall at the corner.  It's called Via Cibo and it's going to be having it's official Grand Opening this week.  I thought I would check it out before it got too crazy to get in there.  I am glad I went early because by the time I left it was starting to get busy with curious people looking for some new food to try.

It calls itself Italian Street Food.  I am not sure it's really street food since how many places have a wood fire oven on the street?  Anyway that's the good part, they do have a wood fired oven in the corner of the restaurant so that they can make authentic Napolitano pizzas.   I tried the Margherita pizza,  I like my pizzas classic and simple.  The true Italians don't cram a million ingredients on a pizza, they normally have about 2 or 3 toppings.   If you put too much on a pizza it gets soggy and you can't taste the actual pizza anymore, just the mixed up toppings.
I have to say it did look like a beautiful thing as you can see and the pizza sauce had a great fresh San Marzano tomato taste.  The cheese got a bit solidified by the time I ate it but it tasted good.  The crust had that great authentic wood fired classic taste.  I would have liked to see the pizza cook for a wee bit longer to crisp up the crust in the middle a bit more.  Once you add the cheese and olive oil and put it on a plate it starts to get soggy in the middle.  Or maybe the solution to this is to serve it on a pizza stone or something.   Hot pizza on a cold plate makes it soggy pretty quickly.  But I know this is pretty classic so I am ok with that little thing.   It's nice to see a pizza with real fresh Basil at a pizza place in North York.  Most of the pizza places add dried basil, cheap mozzarella and some really bad processed canned pizza sauce.  This didn't taste like that and I was really happy to see that it can finally be done.  A decent reasonably priced Italian restaurant in North York.  Thank you and keep them coming.

I even had some bottled water from Italy.  I don't think it makes much difference but it showed the attention to detail in making it authentic Italian.

The room was beautifully designed with a long marble counter.  The staff was very welcoming and took my name and then I proceeded down the line where another staff member called me by name.  Again, attention to customer service and detail.  I picked a dessert and then chose to get water.   Another staff member brought my order over to my table when it was ready.   The service was excellent.  I do hope it stays that way.  The room although the tables and chairs were dark the window let in so much light that it felt bright and airy... a stark contrast from my morning brunch dining experience.  see previous post for details.

It wasn't a large menu but I will go back and try one of their pastas as they did look really good.

I have to say the only thing that wasn't authentic Italian was the dessert.   I got the Tiramisu which was present in a shot type of glass.  Unfortunately it didn't really look like a Tiramisu and it didn't taste anything like a traditional Tiramisu.  It wasn't bad tasting it was just badly named and should be called a mousse dessert instead.   I was surprised that they didn't have any Italian cookies like Amaretto cookies or even some fresh Gelato.   If they add a Gelato machine and make a couple of signature gelato flavours each day they will be the hot spot of the area for a very long time.

I do think this is going to be a very busy place and I think if they keep the quality and the service up it will remain in it's location for a long time.  Trends come and go but classic Pizza is forever.

but SHHH.... don't tell too many people so that I can still get a table in there when I have a Napolitano pizza craving.

Brunch Blues in North York

BRUNCH BLUES in North York 

I haven't been blogging in a couple of weeks because I have been busy working 2 jobs for the past month.  I just finished a temp job so I will have a bit more time now but I am moving on to working for a Film Festival.

While I was doing my temp job I was working on what is known as Hospital Row on University Ave, north of Dundas.  It's not a great area for a foodie to spend time in.  A lot of mediocre lunch or hospital food in the are.  The bright spot was the weekly farmer's market at Sick Kids Hospital.

I woke up this morning with a free day but after a few weeks of crazy weather / transit and working a couple of jobs I am tired.  I woke up feeling hungry and in the mood for a decent breakfast but not in the mood to spend an hour in the kitchen whipping up a great breakfast and then another hour cleaning it all up.   I felt like having a saturday brunch meal but didn't want to have to go all the way downtown just to get breakfast/brunch but it seems as though North York/ Willowdale isn't big on being creative with their breakfast menus.   I had a copy of the current Issue of Now magazine with their Brunch restaurant list.  Nothing in North York.  After searching online I realized that there really weren't very many great brunch places in this whole area.

This is what we have:

  1. Moxie's Grill
  2. Milestone's
  3. Cafe Mirage (has now closed)
  4. Eggsmart
  5. Wimpy's Diner

Not much for condo land is it?  And they are all either chains or very generic or average.

Since I was tired and hungry I chose Cafe Mirage (now closed) in the mall beside where I live.  As you can see from this photo that I took when I walked in at 10:30am, it's not exactly a happening place on a saturday morning.   As I sat there in the restaurant by myself I thought what would it take to pack this place on a consistent basis.     What I thought immediately is to brighten it up.  It looks like a night club lounge so it's not really a wake up and have some brunch kind of environment.  I don't think it would take a whole lot to convert this place to a place people from north of 7 and south of Bloor might consider coming to.

This is what I would do if I wanted to fill this place:

  1. Change the tables and make them silver so that the light from the chandeliers lights up the room and makes it sparkle.  
  2. Paint the walls in sections of contrasting colors to brighten up some areas.   It's a brown on brown room now....snooze fest..  You immediately want to take a nap after being there.
  3. When I walked in the waitress looked both bored and depressed.  Not a good sign.
  4. Then there is the smell.  Its smells tired and stale.  Some plants, fresh flowers, an open patio, something prepared fresh in the room like flavoured coffees ...cinnamon lattes... anything to wake up the senses.
  5. The food..... It's ok but not great.  It looks like the plates are pre prepared with some lack luster salad greens and some cut fruit.  How about skipping the soggy lettuce and making a bowl of fresh fruit salad.  I had one recently with lemon and poppy seed that tasted great.   Not difficult and would be a lot more creative.    Add some new brunch items and change it up sometimes.  Add things like a grilled corn salsa on the side with caramelized onion scrambled eggs.  Again, not difficult but different from the pack of bland and tired breakfast specials.
  6. Then there is the music.   While I love me some 80's music it doesn't really say "this restaurant is ahead of the curve"  it screams "we are old and tired and like it that way".
  7. Since by the time I left there was only one other older lady so I had prompt although not very friendly or enthusiastic service so I was taken care of but I think the waitress would have preferred that I went to McDonald's across the street where I would get quick and friendly service.

I ordered the Eggs Benedict and for about $13 dollars with tax it was a big portion.  I probably only ate half the plate because I skipped the soggy boring lettuce and didn't eat the fruit.  Fruit and eggs don't really sit well together in my stomach and I doubt that it does in anyone else's either.
The eggs were ok but the ham was a bit on the tough side.  The potatoes were just deep fried with a bit of salt.   What would kick them up a bit would be to add smoked paprika to them.  The potatoes weren't greasy but a simple pinch of spice could have elevated them a little bit more.

I have been to this restaurant many times as it's beside where there used to be a movie theatre which has now moved up to North York Centre with everything else.   The service is never great.  Usually the waitresses disappear or seem like they would rather be someplace else.  Sometimes the food is eh.  Breakfast/Brunch is ok...  but I can honestly say it's not worth dragging your ass out of bed early on a saturday or sunday morning and driving to go there to get some.

That's what's missing in North York and especially the area between Yonge/Lawrence and Yonge/Finch.   A decent breakfast/brunch spot that is a neighbourhood joint that is totally creative and outside the regular box of bland breakfasts.   If you want Asian, Persian or junk food then this area is great for you.   But if you are a foodie like me that likes variety and creativity it's not a destination for you to put on your list unfortunately.

So I am posting this in the hopes that some Food Lover/Deep Pocket people will consider saving this gastro wasteland, condo glut of an area and encourage superstar chefs to consider opening up a little funky dive in the area.   Just remember that there will be a Whole Foods opening up at Yonge/Sheppard in 2014 so there will be good food lovers wandering around in the hood.

Here is the list that I compiled from the Now Magazine list and I added a couple others,  but as you can see Now magazine doesn't consider anything in North York to be worth of being a Best Brunch Spot in Toronto.  So can someone please find a way to make it happen.

BRUNCH SPOTS IN TORONTO (according to Now Magazine)

La Carnita
501 College, at Palmerston, 416-964-1555,, @la_carnita

202 Dovercourt, at Argyle, 416-532-7397,

1120 College, at Dufferin, 647-352-7322

791 Dundas W, at Palmerston, 416-901-9581,, @louvrier

DT Bistro
154 Harbord, at Brunswick, 416-916-8155,

Samuel J. Moore
1087 Queen W, at Dovercourt, 416-897-8348, @TheSamuelJMoore

Cafe Belong
550 Bayview, at Pottery Rd, 416-901-8234,

744 St Clair W, at Arlington, 416-658-0568,, @CATCH_TORONTO

807 Gerrard E, at Logan, 416-792-9043,, @_hammersmiths

Voodoo Child
388 College, at Borden, 647-748-1011,, @VoodooChildCafe

Federal Reserve
1438 Dundas W, at Dufferin, 647-352-9120,, @torontofederal

244 Jane, at Horshaw, 647-346-2267

Café Fiorentina
236 Danforth, at Playter, 416-855-4240,, @cafe_fiorentina

Hawker Bar
164 Ossington, at Foxley, 647-343-4698,, @HawkerBar

Bristol Yard
146 Christie, at Pendrith, 647-716-6583

Red Fish
890 College, at Delaware, 416-733-3474,, @redfishresto

White Brick Kitchen
641 Bloor W, at Euclid, 647-347-9188,, @thewhitebrick

Emma's Country Kitchen
1108 St Clair W, at Northcliffe, 416-652-3662,, @emmacountrykitc

Lisa Marie
638 Queen W, at Palmerston, 647-748-6822,, @fidelgastros

Grand Electric
1330 Queen W, at Elm Grove, 416-627-3459,, @grandelectricTO

169 Niagara, at Wellington W, 416-703-4222,, @EdulisToronto

96 Tecumseth, at Whitaker, 647-352-6000,, @BeastRestaurant

Karelia Kitchen
1194 Bloor W, at Brock, 647-748-1194,, @KareliaKitchen

480 King W, at Brant, 416-367-0505,, @PatriaTO

924 Queen W, at Shaw, 416-536-8963,, @ursarestaurant

325 Bay, at Adelaide, 416-637-5550,, @STOCKToronto

181 Wellington W, at John, 416-585-2500,

Café Boulud
60 Yorkville, at Bay, 416-963-6000,, @CafeBouludTO

88 Harbord, at Spadina, 416-929-7788,, @splendido_TO

Courtyard Cafe
18 St Thomas, at Bloor, 416-971-9666,, @windsorarms

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna, at Snooker, 416-588-5695,, @mildredstemple

Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder
699 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-658-9666,, @thestockyards

Black Metal Brunch @ Graffiti’s
170 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-506-6699

Bonjour Brioche
812 Queen E, at Degrassi, 416-406-1250,

70 Fraser, at Liberty, 416-588-0005,, @schoolresto

Saving Grace
907 Dundas W, at Bellwoods, 416-703-7368

Aunties And Uncles
74 Lippincott, at College, 416-324-1375,

Free Times Cafe
320 College, at Robert, 416-967-1078,, @FreeTimesCafe

Le Petit Dejeuner
191 King E, at George, 416-703-1560,, @petidejeuner

972 College at Rusholme 647-341-6769

1301 Queen Street East at Alton 416-406-1301

620 Queen W at Markham 416-855-5601

51 Bathurst at Wellington W 416-601-3533

The Drake
1150 Queen Street West at Beaconsfield M6J 1J3 416-531-5042

Fanny Chadwick's268
Howland at Dupont 416-944-1606

Harlem East Side
67 Richmond St. East at Church 416-368-1920

Rose and Sons
176 dupont street (in the front)

Lady Marmalade
898 Queen St East 647.351.7645  @ladymrestaurant

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Power Outages: What Food to Save and When to Throw Out

Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out |

I haven't been cooking during the power outage and the heat so I am going to use this info as a guideline for what to keep.

Hope you all are food safe this crazy weather season.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eat Up TO -hot summer food event.

I  have been super busy working a couple of different jobs lately and I haven't had time to do much food blogging but I wanted to do a post about this event that I went to recently.  

It was a new foodie event in the Liberty Village sort of area at 99 Sudbury Ave.   It was presented by Now Magazine and it was called EAT UP TO.   It was a pretty small event as food events go.  The thing that I wasn't fond of was the $20 entrance fee but I think that went to charity.. at least I hope so.   There really wasn't a whole lot of actual food there.   There was molecular gastronomy,  Olive oils, drinks,  services and social media apps and things that relate to food.  I had a couple of things and left to try and make it to another event in Markham but I never made it to that one because of our great Toronto Traffic and construction combo.  There were a few interesting things but I think I would have been able to try more interesting foods if I had gone to the other event.   I think Toronto is getting to the point where there are too many foodie events at the same time.   Maybe someone should invent a master calendar so that there's always something going on that you can check out.     Overall it was a really hot day and the best thing that I had at this event was the popsicle below and the Blood Orange Orangina.   I left before the fun guy making a Paella was finished otherwise I would have tried that for sure.
The one thing I wish I had gone later for was to hear someone from Gastropost my regular hangout speak about all foodie things in Toronto..     I went when it first opened so I was the first one to test the square payment system.. I couldn't find a bank machine in the area.   So I guess it probably got a lot busier after I left a while later.   Better planing on my part next time...   Oh.. and there were food trucks there as you can see from the pics.... I kinda felt bad for them. .they usually get huge line ups and nobody was lining up...  not a good day in the sun for them...   well I hope to have time for more events soon... but in the meantime i am busy making money to be able to check out all the things going on in this city.