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December, 2011:

Piola Media Opening

Piola opens on West Queen West.

Toronto has a gourmet pizza chain with an LA location and another recognised as authentic by the folks from Naples who do the recognising, but, with the addition of Piola we now have an outpost of this global operation that stretches from New York to Honduras to Turkey.

Thanks to an invitation from rock-it promotions I had a chance this week to attend a media event for the opening, see the space, and sample the food.

Those spicy, pickled vegetables hiding on the back of this antipasta board were quite good.

Those spicy, pickled vegetables hiding on the back of this antipasta board were quite good.

From the parade of antipasti and pasta that we tried the insalati di polipo (tender octopus, nicely firm potatoes, and tart capers) and fagioli e pancetta (on-target beans, crispy croutons and salty pork) stood out. (more…)

Serious Eats and Mourad: 2 cookbooks that travel

A passion for travelling often comes with an equal passion for tasting food from various cultures. Luckily, cookbooks are cheaper than airplane tickets.

Today I have two cookbook recommendations that are both authentically set in culinary traditions different–one definitely more distinctly–from ours.

The population of the United States has never been so obese and thanks in part to that frosted-tipped, sunglasses on the back of his head Food Network host never as self-conscious of its popular food culture. Happily, we have Serious Eats to be, well, more serious about covering America’s burger joints, old-time pizza parlous, and, yes, diners. (more…)

Roast Bone Marrow

Bone marrow roasted with my adaptation of Fergus Henderson's recipe.

Bone marrow roasted with my adaptation of Fergus Henderson's recipe.

As with so many other things (lamb’s brains for instance) I tried bone marrow for the first time at the Black Hoof.  On our first visit it was offered as “St. John’s Bone Marrow” or paired with the lone vegetarian option on the menu, the cauliflower soup.  St. John is Fergus Henderson’s London restaurant and in his cookbook The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating offers a recipe for the quintessential bone marrow preparation.

I try to stay away, at least in this space, from debating the health benefits of what I cook and eat.  I’m not a doctor and I don’t have the time or training to sift through clinical studies and determine which side has the balance of evidence behind them.  The other problem is that evidence–or at least the accepted consensus–seems to swing like a pendulum.  Everyone remember the high-carb craze of the mid-nineties or the equally ludicrous Atkins claim that heavy cream in your coffee every morning was a healthy choice?  My general philosophy is that if we eat what our grandparents (or an ethnically diverse cross section of our friends’ grandparents) would have recognised as food seventy years ago only very small marginal health benefits can be gained from sweating each new study.  If you care, here is what Chowhound has to say about the health benefits of bone marrow. (more…)

2011 Cookbook Holiday Gift Guide

Frost the Snowman on top of a stack of cookbooks

Throughout the early part of December 2011 I’m going to publish posts with my suggestions for cookbooks to give as gifts this year. I’ll summarise the suggestions here and organise them into categories.

If you buy the books through these links to Amazon I get a small commission but the percentage is the same across the board and Amazon pretty much covers the universe of possibilities for me to recommend. In other words, I don’t think that induces any bias but you can be the judge. Also, if you’re looking for anything on Amazon and type it into that search box in the right sidebar I get the same commission.

Cookbooks That Will be Spattered in Oil and Fish Sauce by Next Year

Almost all of the books I’ll be recommending for the foodster set have recipes in them and this is not to say that the recipes from the books in the other categories are less deserving of culinary attention. It’s just that if we’re being honest with ourselves we should admit that some cookbooks are published and bought for purposes other than cooking. (more…)

2011 Toronto Christmas Market at Distillery

The giant Christmas Tree at the Lowes' Toronto Christmas Market.

Last Saturday we went down to the Distillery District to check out the food offerings at the 2011 Toronto Christmas Market.

The menu from Cheesewerks featuring their grilled cheese sandwiches.

The menu from Cheesewerks featuring their grilled cheese sandwiches.

Cheesewerks, the not-yet-opened grilled cheese emporium had a booth where they were previewing their menu. The original sandwich with various Balderson cheddars, on fancy bread and with roasted garlic, red repper ketchup goes for seven bucks. (more…)