Toronto - DINING & NIGHTLIFE
February 27th, 2009
Unlike Karl Marx who only drank herbal tea (“all proper tea is theft”) we like our tea black, strong and sweetened with a dash of milk and honey.
Lately, we’ve taken to bringing our loose leaves to work in a handy thermos ($23.95) made by B.C.-based Libre.
Totally leak-proof and made with a BPA-free polypropylene cap and filter, the glass vessel brings a touch of style to our mid-morning tea break.
Friday was Assam and violet petals, today is smoked Lapsong. And tomorrow? Perhaps a delicate tisane in honour of Mr. Marx.
Purchase online through www.libretea.com
February 20th, 2009
Who doesn’t remember stuffing brown paper bags with cola bottles, fuzzy peaches, gummy snakes and gobstoppers?
Well, just because we’re all gown up doesn’t mean we don’t still swoon over all things sweet and sweeter.
With yummy truffles (cherry grappa, preserved lemon and fennel pollen), delicious homemade ice creams and sorbets (honey-cinnamon and Mangaro chocolate), cakes, and silky smooth lemon mousse, Xococava, an outcrop of Cava restaurant, is a candy shop for adults that satisfies our every sugary craving.
Dip a churro in thick hot "xocolate" and then take home some black currant marshmallows and triple chocolate chunk cookies for the road.
Xococava, 1560 Yonge St., Toronto, 416-979-9916, www.cavarestaurant.ca
February 13th, 2009
If the thought of heart-shaped agnolotti, ambient candlelight and soft, sultry Sade ballads make you want to vomit, then slap on a mud pack and a waffle dressing gown, crack open the Cava and let these fabulous flicks entertain you.
Lonely robot seeks interstellar love. 'Nuff said.
Harold and Maude
Because the Bea Arthurs of the world deserve hope.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Gwyneth Paltrow drifting off a bus toward Luke Wilson while Nico's "These Days" plays in the background is possibly the most romantic scene ever made. And for all you eyebrow raisers, they play adopted brother and sister!
Jules et Jim
Three is not a crowd in François Truffaut's 1960s allegory.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
How could we deny Audrey a place on the list? Besides, her Givenchy wardrobe and that kiss at the end in the rain with the cat are reason enough to watch this film.
Don’t Clarence and Alabama make one of the cutest couples in movie history?
In The Mood For Love
Carrying noodles in a thermos turns out to be extraordinarily beautiful!
Days of Heaven
It's the only love story we know in which the land is as big as the feelings, and there's a real sense of the essence of both.
There’s no way a mud pack will survive the tears you’ll shed in this '70s weeper.
Gone with the Wind
Rhett to Scarlett as they kiss and she says she will faint: "I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for."
February 12th, 2009
You’ve watched Sideways ten times and your dream is to drive through Napa with Georges Pertuiset as your date.
With over 200 labels, many of which aren’t even available at the LCBO, the impressive wine list at Trattoria Giancarlo’s new wine bar may be the next best thing.
Sommelier and owner Antonio Barata’s suggestions include:
• Clos De Los Siete - Malbec 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina (bottle, $70)
• La Bascula - Syrah/Monastrell 2005 - Spain (bottle, $50)
• Illuminati Riparosso - Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2006 - Italy (bottle, $40)
Pair your wines with light and tasty Italian food ($6-$15) like beef carpaccio, Chiantigiana pasta (with onions, tomatoes and black olives) or the Farrotto (barley risotto with king crab and vegetable vellutata).
When you’re nowhere near Napa, Little Italy will more than do.
Trattoria Giancarlo, 41 Clinton St., Toronto, 416-533-9619.
February 6th, 2009
How better to spend a blustery Saturday afternoon in Toronto than leafing through papers and comfort noshing with your lovey dove?
Enter Hank’s Café, the latest addition to the Jamie Kennedy family. With wholesome dishes such as chicken and sausage stew, meatloaf, mac ’n cheese (made with Ontario cheeses), shepherds pie and pulled pork sandwiches, this is the ideal spot to warm the cockles of your heart and belly.
The coffee (beans provided by Intelligentsia in Chicago) is the real deal, and the baked goods (lemon zest muffins, ginger cookies, croissants and shortbread) are irresistible.
Now that’s one Kennedy man we can get behind.
Hank’s Café, 9.5 Church St., Toronto, 647-288-0670, www.jamiekennedy.ca
February 2nd, 2009
Forget cutesy cupcakes – the macaron uprising is in full swing.
And by macaron we mean the feather light, ganache filled, almond-meringue buttons perfected by the patisseurs of Paris.
Here in Toronto, two passionate pasty chefs, Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell have spent the last nine months mastering their version of the French macaron at Bobbette and Belle. Inspired by the confections of the “Picasso of Pastry” Pierre Hermé, they traveled all the way from their Toronto kitchen to his famous boutique on Rue Bonaparte in Paris in the name of research. The end result—delicate and sweet and buttery smooth—is nothing short of divine.
Bobbette and Belle is already on many a bride-to-be’s wish list (think Marie Antoinette-style bonbonnieres, centre pieces and shower favours). Just imagine a wedding cake made entirely from tiny espresso, vanilla, passion fruit, caramel and raspberry macarons.
Let them eat cake.
Packaged macarons from $5-$15. Individual macarons, $2 each. For more information, contact Allyson Meredith Bobbitt & Sarah Bell at 416-828-6834 or email@example.com.
January 30th, 2009
It’s been a season of sceney openings—Frank, Loire, Osteria, Black Hoof, and School, to name a few. And if we’re naming names, let’s not forget the beautiful Oasi.
Set in the space that Mildred Pearce once occupied, the restaurant’s soaring ceilings, striking chandeliers, plastered pillars and slick polished concrete floors create an air of grace, grandeur and elegance.
Start with a drink at the cocktail bar (discreetly hidden at the back of the restaurant) before melting into dinner in one of the cozy banquettes.
We began with a selection of tasty marinated sardines ($10) followed by the night’s feature, a crispy, pan-roasted salmon served on a bed of quinoa ($34).
The wine list, created by master sommelier John Szabo (the only Canadian to earn this title), is massive and spectacular; we sipped a delightful Fattoria San Quintino Chianti ($45).
Our only peeve: The flatware, though fancy, is ergonomically challenging!
Oasi, 99 Sudbury St., Toronto, 416-849-6567, www.theoasi.com
January 23rd, 2009
Is it possible to live on toasted cheese sandwiches alone?
Since discovering Chabichou, a new gourmet cheese boutique in the Annex, we’ve craved nothing but gooey Swiss cheese melted between slices of warm, crunchy rye bread.
Of course there is Chabichou (a soft French cheese), as well as a robust selection of fondue cheeses (Gruyère), blue cheeses (St. Agur) and triple cream cheeses from Quebec (Baluchon). A selection of cured meats and artisinal breads (from Jules in Mount Pleasant) are also on offer as are some wonderful homemade pates, gravlax, pots of crème brûlée and dauphinoise potatoes.
On the pantry shelf you’ll find aged balsamic vinegars, herbal teas from Mariage Frère, lavender honey, cookery books and other goodies.
It’s hard to leave empty handed, and impossible to leave without a toasted cheese sarni for the road.
Chabichou, 196 Borden St., Toronto, 647-430-4942, www.chabichou.ca
January 16th, 2009
If the thought of school food conjures images of mushy peas, soggy fish sticks and semolina pudding, then you haven't tried School Bakery & Cafe.
As you dive into a mini tower of springy pancakes ($9) loaded with blueberries, cream and syrup, memories of stodgy cafeteria grub will quickly disappear. Other offerings include the ultra-dacadent peanut butter and chocolate waffle sandwich ($11), super cheesy french toast ($10) and poached eggs on a cheddar chive biscuit ($10).
Schoolroom props (books, alphabet blocks, chalkboards) sweep you back to class. A giant chalkboard in the washroom reminds you to ‘brush up on your English Literature at the bar.’
Nestled in the bustling Liberty Village neighbourhood, this is one cool place to play hookie.
School Bakery & Cafe, 70 Fraser Ave., Liberty Village, Toronto, 416-588-0005, www.sbcto.com
January 12th, 2009
We spend so much time at Terroni Queen, the staff practically order for us. But after dining at Cosimo's latest venture, we're willing to break with tradition. Herewith, five things we love about Osteria Ciceri e Tria:
1. Reservations! Yes, it takes them, which means no more standing in mile long lineups in minus a zillion Celsius.
2. Friends in high places: communal dining along one great, big wooden table.
3. A deliciously warming soup of chickpeas and Tria pasta (Ciceri e Tria) and the tastiest branzino antipasto we’ve had in ages.
4. Italiano lessons in the loo: Listen to Italian phrases while retouching your perfect red pout.
5. The authentic, homemade dolci (torta di pane all arancias, torta della nonna, crème caramel) are not to be missed—and are best washed down with an Amaro Nonino Grappa.
Osteria Ciceri e Tria, 106 Victoria St., Toronto, 416-955-0258.