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The 2012 Holiday Insider’s Report

The 2012 PC Holiday Insider's Report

Does anyone else remember when the President’s Choice brand was (sort of) literally chosen by their president and Dave Nichol’s face was on every Insider’s Report ? Well, I do so for nostalgic reasons it was a pleasure to be invited to tasting this week at the Loblaw Companies test kitchen of the products that will be featured in the upcoming Holiday Insider’s Report. (more…)

New Longo’s in Leaside

New Longo's grocery store in Leaside.

Today the Longo family opened their 25th GTA location in 1919 heritage building Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood. Yesterday, I had the chance to tour the new Laird Dr. outpost of the grocery store chain. (more…)

Loblaws Goes for the Parmesan Record

The date and producer stamp for this particular round Parmigiano-Reggiano

Today at more than 250 of their stores across Canada Loblaw Companies will be aiming for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. I remember a simpler time when that book was a slimmer volume. The picture of the gentlemen who had made it into the pages by growing his fingernails for decades (go ahead and Google, I’ll wait) still reverberates in my memory. Progress marches on and new record categories seem to be largely about food on a giant scale and today’s attempt fits that bill. More than 300 wheels of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese will be cracked at once starting at noon eastern time.

Getting prepared for the record-breaking attempt in front of the cheese wall at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens.

Getting prepared for the record-breaking attempt in front of the cheese wall at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens. (Image: Loblaw/rock-it

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of Italy’s most delicious food products (and that’s a very competitive class) but it is also surrounded by a satisfying quantity of what I’m going to call “nerdiderata”. Much of that wealth of knowledge is catalogued in Jeffrey Steingarten’s excellent “Decoding Parmesan” (reprinted as a chapter in It Must’ve Been Something I Ate: The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything). Naturally, I re-read the article before yesterday’s media preview lunch at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens, to which I was invited by rock-it promotions. That book really should be on the shelves of anyone who is interested in reading about food but in the interim and because the Google books excerpt has some strategically important pages excised I’ll offer a rough synopsis. (more…)

Organic Food Taste Test

Cook's Illustrated covers and the taste test of canned whole tomatoes.

We all read that Barry Estabrook article in The Atlantic a few months ago, right? The one that made a solid case that organic food production can feed the world. I’m sold on that point but in my mind the question remains: would an organic diet be delicious?

Food is about choices that sacrifice one variable for another. When producers choose to limit chemical inputs (inorganic fertilisers and pesticides) my back-of-the-envelope guess was that taste often suffers. I know from gardening at home that when I select a certain seed because I’ve read it produces uncommonly delicious tomatoes I have to accept that they won’t be “heavy croppers” or resistent to four types of wilt.

I’m just as unsatisfied with my random guesses as you probably are so moved on to a more objective test. (more…)

Grocery Wars: Loblaws vs. Longo’s

Loblaws vs. Longo's for hard to find ingredients.

Between holiday gifts and boxing week Amazon sales I’m willing to bet that many of you are spending January plowing through recipes from new cookbooks. In many cases you’ll be looking for ingredients that almost never make it on to your regular lists. If you find yourself with a car and outside downtown you’ll be well-served if you end up a place like the uptown Pusateri’s, Highland Farms, or the west-end’s Cheese Boutique.

But in the past year two options have opened for the subway-bound searchers for esoteric ingredients. Longo’s has a location in Maple Leaf Square that is quite close to Union Station and Loblaws has just opened a store in what used to be Maple Leaf Gardens a couple blocks east of College station. (more…)