Archive | December, 2006

Venturing Out

16 Dec

By Stephanie Dickison

This past week I had to go to areas around town that I don’t get to very often.

Like most people, I like to venture out to new places, but with the time demands of writing and reviewing restaurants, errands and social events, I keep to my local places and venture out only on weekends when time allows or I’m heading to the area as a destination.

This week, I had the pleasure of rediscovering Church Street and Bloor West Village.

Church is somewhere that I like and know, but rarely get to. I hadn’t been in years and I couldn’t believe how much it changed. I also couldn’t believe the wealth of amazing food stores.

Cumbrae’s is something of a legend in the city for having superb farm-raised meats and handmade foods. I was window-shopping before reviewing a restaurant in the area and just walking into the beautiful store made my mouth water.

And then just across the street is Reither’s Fine Food International – 416-961-3892 – where you can get a huge mini meat loaf dressed a number of delectable ways for only $4.99! There are incredible prepared foods along with interesting products from around the world. I found seasoning for a liver and bacon plate, curry ketchup and many cookies, crackers, jams, cheeses, meats, chocolates and grocery items to please any food lover!

Two days later I found myself in Bloor West Village where I picked up almond tarts for our neighbours, packaged soups (check out my blog about the soups here) for myself and a lovely book author whom I interviewed earlier this year and tours to such an extent that she often isn’t allowed much time to eat, sliced leg of lamb for sandwiches (my new favourite find!) from Max’s – 2299 Bloor Street West 416-766-6362 – and some incredible chocolates that wowed the crowd last night from a deli right at Runnymede and Bloor.

It was so great to rediscover these pockets of the city and I highly recommend it.

I know you are swamped with parties and lunches, shopping and wrapping, but take just an hour or two and walk through an area you haven’t visited for awhile. It is just the thing you need at this time of year. And you won’t come home empty handed. There is so much incredible food to be had in the city. Go have at it!

Surprising Savings at the St. Lawrence Market

13 Dec

By Stephanie Dickison

I am of the belief that the Market can be pretty pricey. Although my Dad and I go just about every Saturday, we like to shop downstairs at Domino’s and rarely spend more than a few dollars.

But all the stuff that I really like is usually a good chunk of change. Now you’re getting amazing product for your money, so don’t think I’m complaining. It’s just I can’t afford to grocery shop there.

Until last Saturday.

I don’t know what made everything so inexpensive, but check out what I got:

From the Farmer’s Market

1 pint of yellow beans – $1.00
1 pint of brussel sprouts – $0.50
1 pint of snow peas – $1.00
1 romaine lettuce – $1.00
1 absurdly huge kale – $1.00

From the Other Side

2 “Weekend” Organic Sprout Salads – $5.00 (in total)
6 fresh smelt – $1.34
1 chipotle mayonnaise – $1.99
1 fresh salmon steak enough for 3 – $12.63

Other than the salmon, it was crazy cheap!

Total = $25.46
Experience = priceless

Steam Whistle Rocks All Year Round!

13 Dec

By Stephanie Dickison

I recently had the opportunity to try the Steam Whistle Holiday Pack, which is not only filled with your favourite 12 bottles of beer, but comes in a convient box with handle that you pull up from within (great design, fellas!) and a handy gift tag label should your box be for someone else (What a good friend you are!).

You know, this holiday season, we’re all lugging bottles of wine back and forth to various dinner and office parties, but don’t you find yourself wishing for a clean, refreshing beer at these functions? From now on, I’m only heading out with the Steam Whistle holiday pack.

It just makes sense.

(this is not a paid advertisement, just my opinion)

Loblaws – Can You Believe It?

7 Dec

By Stephanie Dickison

Toronto is one of the best food cities in the world. At any given time, whatever area you are in, there is a bevy of cuisines available – Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian. And if you feel like making pad thai or beef with chinese broccoli, you can pick up the ingredients at your local grocery store.

What a wonderful world.

And it keeps getting better. I get my fruit and veggies at my local f&v stand (and on the weekends, I pick up a few goodies at either the Kensington or St. Lawrence Market), but recently I have been getting a few things at my neighbourhood Loblaws.

After searching for years for an accessible place to buy Meyer lemons, Loblaws had a bag of 5 for $2.49! I was thrilled. I went home and stuffed pork chops with slices of lemon, sauteed mushrooms and fresh basil leaves, drizzled it with lemon juice and olive oil and stuck it in the oven with baby potatoes. I served it with a hearty stuffing and purple broccoli and we couldn’t get enough of it. Now I’m thinking I’ll make some shrimp and lemon pasta (with fresh basil or maybe dill) on the weekend – fresh and summery for this time of year, exactly what we need!!

Last night I went back into Loblaws to pick up some snacks for a get together we were having later – they have a great selection and wonky choices like Tomato Pretz from I think Hong Kong, and things like fragrant Onion Rings and Shrimp Sticks.

On my way to the bakery for something sweet, I passed by a container of cherry sized heirloom tomatoes of every colour – yellow, orange, red, dark purple and green – $3.99! I would have snapped up one or two, but I had yellow tomatoes from the market waiting for me at home.

A couple of weeks ago, a similarily colourful bunch appeared at the end of the onion aisle – a bag of mini potatoes – red, white, brown and purple – for only $1.99.

While it’s not just multi-coloured collections that I’m after, I am so excited about my trips to Loblaws now, because who knows what I’ll find and come home with!

Season of food

4 Dec

By Chris Garbutt

It’s the season of lots of food, particularly if you celebrate Christmas. Sweets, shortbreads, candy canes, big meals, parties (by the way, isn’t December the time you’re supposed to get a rest? why doesn’t it ever work out that way?)

Anyway, now that it’s cold just about everywhere in the country, we can turn on our ovens and set to roasting and baking. Back at Thanksgiving, my mother showed up with two pepper squashes, and as happens sometimes, it sat in my vegetable bowl for almost two months before I decided what to do with it. It started turning from a deep green to a bright orange, so I figured I better act fast if I wanted to try this lovely vegetable. When I cut it open (not easy, it was huge, and very, very hard), every thing looked fresh, so I got to work. I love squash, but I find pepper squash’s flavour and texture need to be enhanced just a little. So here’s what I finally did last night.

Roast Pepper Squash

1 large pepper squash, halved and seeded
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
2 tbsp maple syrup

Lay the squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle brown sugar over both halves, put one tablespoon of butter into the hollow of each half, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cover the squash tightly with foil, then bake in a preheated 400F oven for 1 – 1.5 hours, or until soft.

There will be a fair amount of liquid in the hollows of the squash — pour that into a bowl, then scoop out the flesh into the same bowl (make sure you’re using oven mitts here!!). Add the maple syrup (I believe that more is better), and mash well. Mash with a potato masher or puree with a stick blender (I like it to be just a little lumpy, but if you like a smoother texture, you could even put it in a food processor or blender). Serves 4-6.

FYI — I had this with roasted chicken breasts (skin on, bone-in — much better flavour) and roasted potatoes and carrots.