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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.


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…)

New Loblaws, Bulk Barn, and Matt Kantor at Longo’s

Maple Leaf Gardens restored awning and the lineup for the new Loblaws.

Yesterday grocery stores were front page news in Toronto. Loblaws has bought Maple Leaf Gardens and turned it into a massive store with wide aisles and separate wall-sized displays of cheese, prosciutto and other goods.

Mural of Leafs heroes at new Loblaws.

Mural of Leafs heroes at new Loblaws.

I joined the lineup under the restored, retro awning on Carlton to get into the Gardens and only scalpers shouting “who’s buying, who’s selling” could have made that more nostalgic. There are some touches like the large mural pictured above, tables topped with posting posters from when Ali was still Clay, and the art installation made from old blue seats above the escalator that are definite nod to the building that was the setting for millions of hours of frost-bitten boyhood fantasies. (more…)

Reflecting in the Deli Case

Salads cllockwise from top: spicy couscous, 7-grain, quinoa, and pasta.

Salads cllockwise from top: spicy couscous, 7-grain, quinoa, and pasta.

Expensive restaurant meals and recipes for esoteric meat (a post on comparing beef aging is in the works) or complicated desserts are fun things to write about. And they get the Google hits. As a change today’s post is going to be about the prepared salads in the deli cases at grocery stores. These are remarkably popular with lunchtime customers and have, in many cases with nearby offices or premium competitors, been revamped to drastically improve quality.

For a picnic in one of the ravines that connects to Alexander Muir Gardens I picked up two salads from Loblaws, and one each from Sobey’s and Rabba.

Listen, I see that this is not a scientific test but rather an apples-to-oranges comparison. I had no desire to sample four different seven-bean salads and then run the test again for all the various mediterrenean pasta salads. The purpose of the exercise was not to award a blue ribbon to a particular dish or crown one of the stores as best. Rather, I was after rough observations that might be useful for drawing future conclusions and that could yield surprise gems.

If nothing else, like all other posts, this one will be a good personal reference in the future. (more…)

The Loblaws Burger

This burger was three-napkins, eye-rolling, quiet-moaning good.

This burger was three-napkins, eye-rolling, quiet-moaning good.

I have always been a fan of hamburgers but over the past year or so my taste for a good burger has sharpened.  My quest to find a consistently delicious example in one (or more) of Toronto’s restaurants has been so frustrating that I am beginning to think that a very good (let alone exceptional) burger can only be cooked at home.

On occasion I’ve gone to some fairly drastic lengths to capture burger greatness.  One of the first posts on Food With Legs was about grinding meat for burgers.  Soon after I made my own potato-brioche buns.  These were great projects and I enjoyed the ride immensely each time but they are really meant for a Sunday afternoon barbeque in July.  I recognise that the craving for a juicy beef patty sandwiched between a soft, rich bun sometimes strikes on Tuesday evening on the way home from work in November.  Project cooking is great but a hamburger sometimes just needs to be cheap, simple, and quick.