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November, 2010:

Spotlight in November

Just a quick post today to draw your attention to some of the great material over at the other site I write for, Spotlight Toronto.  As always wine coverage is top notch as shown by pieces like Mike Di Caro’s post about the Winemaker’s Boots experience at Flat Rock Rock Cellars and of course there is tons of great photography from Suresh Doss–my favourite this month was his story about a fund-raising dinner at Edgewater Manor.  For a brief diversion from culture that can be consumed orally I liked Jason Poynton’s look at the Canadian Opera Company’s Aida.

I think I also had some interesting stories on Spotlight Toronto this month.  The Ocean Wise Chowder Chow Down was one of my favourite events to date this year.  Also, I’m particularly proud of the first installment in what I hope will be a long-running series of stories about Toronto’s ultimate food.  First up was peameal bacon, from Carousel Bakery at St. Lawrence Market to my home-cured version.

Gay Lea Butter Giveaway

Sometimes it can be hard to see the good recipe trees through the forest that is a food trend.  One such annoying meme is the idea that men like any food more if it has bacon in it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon, but I will probably still not like a vanilla cupcake with bacon crumble on top.  This means I’m skeptical of recipes that describe their product as “man food”.

When I was sent a package from Gay Lea that is part of their shortbread bliss campaign I managed to put this skepticism aside because one of the two recipes (that described itself as man food) was for Chipotle & White Cheddar Shortbread Crackers.  I have never made shortbread cookies, in part because they also seem a little monochromatic so the idea of creating an appetiser that is instead cheesy and spicy intrigued me.  (more…)

Woodlot Restaurant

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it in this space before but I built a wood-burning oven last summer.  Their house-built specimen was the first thing that drew me to Woodlot, the new restaurant just south of College on Palmerston.  You’ll be able to assess how much trouble your dining companions got in over the last five years depending on how fondly they remember that this location used to house Octopus Lounge.

The Woodlot menu has four sections: appetisers, pastas that come in either a large or small size, mains, and desserts.  A photo of the draft menus (they have a vegetarian one as well) was posted on Twitter by @foodie411.  Menus divided this way can be confusing so I’ll offer the strategy that a couple will not be disappointed by sharing three plates from the appetiser and pasta categories and one main.  Also note that the small pasta option will satisfy most appetites unless it is all you’re eating. (more…)

Sweetbreads

Let’s start here: Sweetbreads are not testicles.  I don’t know where that impression came from but I do know that a lot of people get that silly grin or shocked expression when they see them on menus.  They actually are either the thymus gland or pancreas from veal and lambs and they’re quite tasty.

Before meat production was separated from milk production baby animals were slaughtered in the spring, not long after they were born, so that their mothers’ milk could be diverted into fresh consumption or–more likely before refrigeration was widespread–into cheese production.  For this reason veal, lamb and the sweetbreads by-products are traditionally associated with spring but modern agricultural has cracked Mother Nature’s code and we can eat tasty young animals all year long.  Not sure how I feel about this but if they’re going to kill the baby cows (and sheep) for the tenderloin someone has to eat the sweetbreads, right? (more…)

Back to the Polls

Photo: Benson Kua

Torontonians have dealt with our municipal election and that means four years of Rob Ford but it also means that our next election is the provincial one on October 6, 2011.  There were some bright moments for food policy in the municipal election: farmers’ market organiser Mary-Margaret McMahon soundly defeated Sandra Bussin and Joe Pantalone–he of the wrong-headed attack on bistros who want liquor licenses–didn’t come anywhere near to winning.  I hope that food policy gets more attention during the provincial round of campaigning and I’m going to start right here with this post.

To fully cover the political issues that interest me and are relevant to this space I’m also going to include alcohol policy.  They’re sometimes very distant from each other but the two realms of policy do come together in our important restaurant industry but also cross when you consider how closely they’re both affected by a government’s willingness to play an active role in affecting consumer choice. (more…)