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January, 2011:

$150 at McEwan’s Fabbrica Giveaway

I’m happy to share with you that the good people at S. Pellegrino have offered a $150 gift certificate for Food With Legs readers to win.  The gift certificate is for Chef Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica restaurant in the Shops at Don Mills. Contest details are below.

It’s a fairly open secret around these part that I was once a very picky eater. So much so that maybe ten years ago when I had my first veal parmigiana sandwich from Mustachio’s at St. Lawrence Market I felt like I was pushing my limits. I figured that if I was going to go as far as a sandwich in the basement of a market I might as well go further and add an Aranciata (orange-flavoured) San Pellegrino. My taste in food has progressed well beyond Mustachio’s but I still think of San Pellegrino as adding an authentic sophistication to casual Italian food.

Comment below with your first or favourite San Pellegrino restaurant memory by Friday, February 4, 2011 at 5 PM eastern. The winner will be randomly selected from comments made before the deadline. Please leave your email in the appropriate field so that I can get in touch with you if you win but these will not be shared publicly. One entry per person.

Update: Using the random number generator at I determined that the winner of the $150 gift certificate to Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica was entry 25 of 27. Colleen C.’s comment was one of the more romantic ones:

Having San Pellegrino at a street side restaurant during our honeymoon in Rome was absolutely sublime. We stock it at our house, just to take us back to Rome!

Congratulations, Colleen, and thanks everyone for entering.

S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef

On February 7 Toronto’s Calphalon Culinary Institute will host the Canadian Regional Competition for the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition (Twitter, Facebook). Eight Canadian culinary students will create an original dish in hopes being selected to compete against the winners from the four US regions for the North American title.

The event’s judges will be James Chatto, Claire Tainsey of Chatelaine and Chefs Chris Mills, François Blais, Jeff Dell, and Laurent Godbout (of Joey’s Restaurants, Panache Restaurant, Milestones, and l’Épicier respectively) as well as a guest judge from the food blogging community. I’m honoured to have been invited to post on why I should be a judge but in order to do so I’ll have to sail pretty close to the wind of trademark violation.

First, I’ve seen the movie Almost Famous more than a couple times. The soundtrack is amazing, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman is just starting to make his case for Best Character Actor of His Generation, and it’s full of some very good performances from actors that haven’t done much since. I can sense some skepticism about how this counts as a qualification but know this: If at any point I’m distracted from my judge-ly duties it will be because Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” are on infinite loop in my brain. (more…)

Chili by The Numbers

Right up there with grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs, chili is a recipe that even the most hapless bachelor can handle. One pot, some ground beef, a can of tomatoes, a can of beans, powdered spices and maybe some beer as a “secret ingredient”.

When Ivy Knight asked me to participate in a chili cookoff as part  of the 86′d Mondays events at the Drake my inclination was to go in the exact opposite direction of this bare bones proto-chili. I won’t give too much away but I will say that my chili combines:


Excellent beef shoulder generously provided by Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington Market,


More Woodlot

This weekend for a very special occasion ten of my family members gathered around the communal table at Toronto’s Woodlot Restaurant.  This was my first visit since the very early days in mid-November so I had an opportunity to see how the food and service are evolving.  As in-house baker Jeff Connnell told Kelly Jones for an article in Good Food Revolution the menu at Woodlot ebbs and flows with the seasons and availability of ingredients instead of resetting on a predetermined timeline.

The excellent bread is baked in the house-built wood oven

The porchetta, lamb tart, and lasagna are gone for now and the venison in the pie has been replaced by chicken and ham hock.  Luckily, the size of our group meant that we ate family-style and I got to try many of the new dishes. (more…)


Until the first day of 2011 I had never eaten a slider.  No, I’m not a social recluse.  Yes, over the last four years I have been to my share of parties where charming servers have offered miniature sandwiches.  But even the ones that incorporated a griddled patty of ground beef were unequivocally not sliders.

There is not much worse than a poncey dinner party host who insists that their bagged mini carrots be called crudites.  Fights over controlled words like champagne vs. sparkling wine, or pargimigiano reggiano vs. parmesan cheese are almost as tiresome.  Langauge does evolve and I’m happy to say that English handles these changes better than some others.

Now that I’ve established that I’m no expert and that I dislike strict usage rules I’m to go ahead and insist that a mini sandwich is not a “slider”.  Adam Kuban who is one of the minds behind the site A Hamburger Today (AHT) does a better job of explaining why so take a look at his post.  Or if you’re too lazy for a single click allow me to summarise: A slider is like a small hamburger in that it must contain a thin patty of ground beef but the onions on which it is cooked are integral and the bun it’s served on must be introduced to the cooking environment so that it can absorb the aroma and flavour of onions. (more…)