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The Underappreciated Macelleria Atlas

One of St. Clair West's three traditional butcher shops.

This winter I have been walking more along the stretches of St. Clair West that I’m pretty sure want to be called Wychwood Heights and Hillcrest Village. Or at least that’s what the street signs claim. It’s getting to a be a cliche to describe a section of Toronto as diverse, but you really can walk past quite the variety of restaurants and other food businesses from Bathurst to Oakwood.

Fillipino from Manila Food is the eastern anchor for a list that runs through two of the city’s most popular Jamaican spots (Albert’s and Gerry’s), that are across the tracks from El Fogon, one of Toronto’s only Peruvian restaurants. And that’s just the first two blocks. Further west there are stops for churrasco (the now slightly less dingy Churrasco of St. Clair) and tapas at the fun and affordable Mezzetta. The Stockyards and Catch Restaurant both made that list of Canada’s 50 Best Restaurants that Macleans published and the Wychwood outpost of Pizza e Pazzi has been warmly reviewed and covers the all-important “casual Italian fare” base. In between there is the usual mix of brunch-esque bakeries and Asian spots that each cover the cuisine from at least two countries. (more…)

Italpasta High Fibre Total Pasta

Fortifying white-flour pasta with fibre is the big new thing in pasta and Toronto’s Italpasta is joining the market. Fibre-fortified pasta appeals to those who want the health benefits of whole wheat without the grainy taste and rougher texture of whole wheat pasta. Their Total Pasta line is made from Canadian-grown durum wheat and fortified with inulin from chicory root. (more…)

Campbell’s new Stock First line

Campbell’s Canada has released a new line of products called Stock First. They have aimed these offerings at “the cook who wants to be a chef at home.”

They have a Beef and Chicken version that are parallel products to existing broths. Compared to the broths, the stocks are thicker, have a richer flavour and are intended to do things enrich sauces instead of, say acting as a base for soup. As well, at 480 ml the package size is smaller and that points to the idea that recipes may call for less than a cup of the stock. (more…)

Loblaws Holiday Gingerbread House

Both to mark the holiday season and to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their Carlton street location (in the old Maple Leaf Gardens), Loblaws and their President’s Choice brand have built a giant holiday gingerbread house.

The life-size house is made with edible gingerbread but only packaged candy decoration will actually be eaten–given the sanitary concerns related to life-sized children and their pint-sized hands. It’s located in the Canteen at the Gardens location and is decorated with over 700 pounds of candy.

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Rice Bran Oil

About a year and a half ago I ordered a book called Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work that has become one of my staple cooking references. Their recipe for cold-smoked fried chicken sent me on a bit of a wild-goose chase for rice bran oil because at that time it wasn’t carried very widely in Toronto grocery stores. The Hansells Group and their Alfa One brand of rice bran oil is now working to change that.

From the preview event they held a couple weeks ago at the Sub Zero & Wolf Showroom in Toronto I took home a sample of the product. They were demo’ing examples of the oil used for sauteeing, baking, in a salad dressing and as part of the sauce for Thai curry mussels and everything tasted but I wanted to test the oil out at home.

Eggplant fritter frying in rice bran oil.

Eggplant fritter frying in rice bran oil.

On our trip to Spain last April we managed to develop a low-level addiction to fried eggplant fritters with honey. Since we’ve been back we’ve made them at least once a month. Most recipes like the berenjenas con miel in Claudia Roden’s The Food Of Spain call for soaking eggplant slices in milk, dusting them with flour and then frying in sunflower oil. Because the coating is so light and the other flavours are so neutral this seems like an ideal situation for a side-by-side test. (more…)