It is a Torontonian, at last, and not some rubber-boot-clad Maritimer high on smelt fumes who holds the world record for oyster-shucking. Patrick McMurray is a local restaurateur who cracked the shell on his own oyster-shucking record recently, separating 38 of these much celebrated bivalves from their calcium carbonate and silicate homes in under one minute.
McMurray, who owns Starfish (on Adelaide) and Ceili Cottage (in Leslieville), is a lifelong and devoted shucker, and something of an icon among the oyster cult of North America (“There are only four or five of us at this level in Toronto,” McMurray says). In 2007, he penned a love letter to his chosen field with Consider the Oyster, a field guide for oyster enthusiasts everywhere.
McMurray’s technique employs both hands independently—one clad protectively in a stainless steel glove. With it, he can shuck an oyster in four-and-a-half seconds.
He shares his talents generously, regularly traveling the world to teach other chefs the finer points of a good shuck. On his own turf, McMurray prides himself on showcasing the action. Rather than relegate the behind-the-scenes work to a closed kitchen, the restaurateur invites his oyster shuckers into the bar-based spotlight, in full view of the diners who will ultimately feast on their results.
Luminato, the brilliant festival of arts and creativity that descends on our fair burg at this time of year, leaves no sense unturned in its efforts to showcase local talent. The President’s Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto pulls back the checkered tablecloth on an array of tastebud-tickling treats—and offers them up for purchase at a pretty nice price, too.
The closing weekend of the festival, which runs June 11 to 20, plays host to the culinary component, wherein festival-goers can wander among a veritable cornucopia of restaurant offerings, and score themselves a whack of pretty tasty foodie experiences for a mere $5 a shot....more
It is, says the guy hoping to make it so, the next revolution in casual cuisine.
Not that the burger hasn’t been done before. Indeed, it’s been done so many times the hoofprints in the sand won’t ever go away. But it’s being done differently now. Or so contends Saeed Mohamed, the president of Burger Shoppe Quality Meats, a full-service Toronto burger co. that promises quality beyond that to which you may have become accustomed.
It is Mohamed’s intention to steal back the burger from the fast-food joints who once themselves sought rebellion with low-end, quickservice patties between buns and, well, rebel once more, this time with at the other end of quality and price....more
Go out in the world and do well, they say. Even better: go out in the world and do good. Find a twist on that at Toronto Taste this spring, where a slew of civic-minded foodies gather for a deliciously good cause.
Now in its 20th year, Toronto Taste 2010 brings together some 60 chefs (some long-standing participants, others newbies), including Marc Thuet, Donna Dooher, Mark McEwan and Michael Smith; 25 beverage providers; and 1,600 guests. All are dedicated to raising money for Second Harvest, a charitable organization that distributes donated perishable food, which would otherwise go to waste, to some 200 social service agencies in the GTA. Last year, Second Harvest delivered nearly 6 million pounds of vittles to feed Toronto’s hungry.
“It’s become Toronto’s premier food charity event while remaining a very grassroots thing,” says Chris McDonald, chef/owner at Cava Restaurant and one of this year’s participants. “It’s always a nice Sunday in June to get to see all of my colleagues, and most of my customers come out, too.”...more
The Hot Box Café, billed, breathlessly, as Toronto’s “first and only pot-positive café,” is a unique hangout for Torontonians who share a particular passion.
Here, pot smokers are invited to indulge in what comes naturally, on a graffiti-adorned outdoor “potio” or in a dimly lit smoking room whose convivial atmosphere can be cut with a knife. Roach-o-Rama is the retail storefront, where folks can drift about a haze of pot-friendly items, including hemp clothing, vaporizers and grinders. And, on weekend evenings, Hot Box Afterdark tokers’ lounge opens up “for stoners to hang out.”...more
The buzz about the much-speculated-upon (but little confirmed) soon-to-open Scarpetta restaurant is mounting. But even today, on the apparent cusp of its unveiling (opening day will not be confirmed), ain’t no one spilling much in the way of detail.
The flagship restaurant of the Thompson Toronto hotel, whose tony Wellington St. W. address represents Thompson’s first location on non-U.S. soil, Scarpetta is a balm to the übercool in pursuit of decadent novelty.
The 150-seat space (an outdoor dining area adds another 50, seasonally) will be shepherded by Scott Conant, one of those celebrity chefs who cut his public teeth on Food Network shows like Top Chef and Chopped, and already has a James Beard award in his trophy case....more
Another Victoria Day come and gone and you’ve got the sunburn and gastrointestinal cramping to prove it.
Regularly regarded as the unofficial start of picnic and barbecue season, the venerable queen’s birthday is as much associated with firing up the grill as it is with contracting a food-borne illness, and all the holiday-weekend wonder that entails....more
So you’re psyched about the G20 Summit landing in Toronto next month, and have plans to maybe score yourself a Mike’s Hard and watch the proceedings unfold from a nearby patio.
The Toronto Summit, which runs June 26 and 27, is a big whoop-de-do for finance ministers and cigar-sucking bankers the world over looking to make good on hot air expelled during the last three summits....more
Feeling parched and craving refreshment? The recent flurry of innovation in all things beverage might have some folks believing it’s all so much of a muchness out there—only new and improved.
But take heed, thirsty traveler. All drinks are not created equally. A sampling of proof:
Glaceau Vitamin Water. Don’t kid yourself, this recent twist on nature’s most essential compound, complete with fancy francais name, is not the elixir some might believe it to be. Note to self: just because something is touted as “water,” does not automatically drench it in a cascade of health....more
A rye tribute rewarded
The miracle that is the local deli was gratefully acknowledged, recently, by the James Beard Foundation, a New York-based not-for-profit dedicated to all things food, with a 2010 award for a Toronto-born author’s love letter to the cuisine.
David Sax’s Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessan, received top honours in the writing and literature category....more