We’ve been waiting for it with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for root canals, and now it’s upon us: the HST. This harmonized tax thingie that is being lowered over our collective citizenship—at least that of British Columbians and Ontarians—on Canada Day, of all days, as if a true patriot would ever have signed on for such malarkey.
Ah, the ever-lovin’ G20 and its attendant stream of madcap developments. Whatever will the good burghers of Toronto talk about when the world’s big-name politicos pull up anchor and head home? It’s a thought too barren to contemplate. For now, best to busy ourselves with more summit chatter.
Water cannons? Check. Wool underwear? Check again. Three squares a day? Let’s check....more
So you think you had a really boss tilapia last night, or that the artichoke hearts on the side were something pretty exceptional. Perhaps. But you don’t know jack about truly special food until you’ve hung with Dr. Massimo Marcone, a University of Guleph food scientist and author who’s made it his life’s work to identify—and conquer—the world’s most unusual eats.
This is the guy who’s done the Fear Factor menu before you’ve even worked through your Wheaties. He’s eaten the grasshoppers and the locusts, chased down and knocked back the elusive morel mushroom, sampled the piranha.
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