Toronto - DINING & NIGHTLIFE
January 27th, 2012
Culinary bells and whistles are a treat but sometimes simple and savory are all we need.
New from the team at Table 17, Ascari Enoteca 26 (named for the 1950s Formula One star) had everything we craved for our Friday night out: home made pasta, chatty tablemates, seamless service (even the waitress’s sequined sweater added cheer) and bottomless glasses of Piedirosso. Amid the locally sourced flavors (di rigore in Leslieville these days) are scrumptious imports like cured Bresaola, Marcona almonds and creamy La Tur cheese.
Finish things off with the banana Zeppole and do observe the speed limit on the way home. —Marianne Wisenthal
Ascari Enoteca 26, 1111 Queen Street E., Toronto, 416-792-4157, www.ascarienoteca.ca
December 29th, 2011
Raise a glass! Our editor share their favourite holiday wines:
Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer is a mouthful to say but the French wine is floral and fruity and pairs nicely with Thai takeout making for a perfect night in. $18.49 at Kensington Wine Market, 1257 Kensington Rd. N.W., Calgary, 403-283-8000, www.kensingtonwinemarket.com —Jaelyn Molyneux, Calgary editor
Moving from London back to Vancouver meant that my favourite wines (usually from Spain) were suddenly a lot more expensive. The Rioja Crianza from Campo Viejo is a good staple when you don’t want to spend much money, it is oaky, fruity, and rich (all the things I hate in a white wine but love in a red.) $14.99 from BC Liquor Stores. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg, Vancouver fashion editor
For a sparkler that won’t set you back, we love Sieur d'Arques Première bulle Blanquette de Limoux mousseux (2008) ($17.55). It’s the perfect girly sipper, from the pretty pink label to the fruity bubbles. At selected SAQ locations. —Jennifer Nachshen, Montreal editor
As a rare girl that doesn’t like Champagne, I always make sure to stock up on riesling, which can feel just as festive and taste just as sweet. This one by Tantalus is my personal favourite: very floral with strong hints of both apple and pear. Its full-bodied, yet breezy palette makes it a great companion for any celebration. $22.90 at Village VQA Wines.—Anya Georgijevic, Vancouver beauty editor
Cedar Creek Riesling 2010 ($17.90) I’m a seafood-aholic and this light, bright riesling goes beautifully with almost anything from the ocean. —Kelsey Dundon, Vancouver lifestyle editor
Outis Etna is a fabulous wine that we discovered at Terroni. According to Max Stefanelli who runs the L.A. outpost, this ruby red is best paired with meats and caponata. $16 per glass, $74 per bottle at Terroni, 720 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-504-1992, www.terroni.com —Athena Tsavliris, Toronto editor
After living in Argentina, I figure you can't ever go wrong with malbec. The full-bodied flavour and richness of the Andeluna Malbec pairs perfectly with nights spent reminiscing around the fire with old friends. $25 at Firefly Wines, 2857 Cambie St., Vancouver, 604-875-3325, www.fireflyfinewinesandales.com —Kelsey Mulyk, Managing editor
Bear Flag's smooth red blend wins points on several counts: a female winemaker, a highly drinkable blend oozing vanilla and cherry, an accessible price point, and an illustrated label by an emerging artist (because, yes, packaging counts!) $ 12.99 at BC Liquor Stores. —Sarah Bancroft, Editor-in-chief
November 29th, 2011
If our mother let us, we’d eat brunch for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For eggs with oomph we’re headed to Hammersmith’s, a former greasy spoon at Logan and Gerrard. Named after a London borough, this wee corner spot serves accessibly gourmet brunch items like smoked bacon omelettes ($11), steak n’ eggs ($14) and free range duck hash. Everything that comes out of the scrubbed-down open kitchen is sourced in the 'hood like bread from Brick Street Bakery and Steeped and Infused teas. Check the menu board for daily batches of buttery scones made in-house with seasonal Ontario berries. As the weather cools, look out for heartier items like gamey meats, beans on toast and weekly prix-fixe dinners including short ribs and speckled trout with roasted cauliflower.
We’ll take ours with a side order of over-easy. Don’t tell our mum. —Marianne Wisenthal
Hammersmith's, 807 Gerrard Street E., Toronto, 416-792-9043, www.hammersmithsbrunch.com, reservations accepted up to four people
Photo credit: Ayla Newhouse
November 11th, 2011
Here’s to the revival of the local butcher!
Revered for his homemade sausages, former Starfish and Ceili Cottage chef Kyle Deming and wife Lorraine have set up shop in Leslieville. Sausage Partners features hormone and antibiotic-free meats sourced in the Kawarthas from free-range animals.
The pair also sells ethically-caught Lake Huron fish (smoked on-site), baskets of fresh bread, seasonal veg piled high on harvest tables and lovely preserves like Tomato Cinnamon Jam (great on toast or burgers) ($6.50). Lazy gourmets can pick up rich cottage pies ($20), rolls of frozen cookie dough ($6) and Kyle’s famous sticky toffee pudding, while die-hard carnivores are invited to join the Meat Club (from $60) for monthly boxes of freeze-packed cuts.
As for the Naked Pork sausages? We declare these bangers a smash. —Marianne Wisenthal
Sausage Partners, 1378 Queen Street E., Toronto, 416-778-6328, www.sausagepartners.com
November 4th, 2011
You’ve rounded up a charcuterie feast of veal bones, venison pâté, rich rillettes and hard-to-find cheeses. Now you need something beautiful to present it on.
Geoffrey Lilge's handcrafted cutting boards are just the thing. Each piece (more artwork than cutting board, really) is made from solid maple and walnut and finished with natural oil and beeswax.
They are simple, functional and exquisite. Hang it on the wall until your next carnivorous chow-down. —Athena Tsavliris
See www.geoffreylilge.com for local stockists.
October 27th, 2011
Aside from the wafting smells of Tikka Masala, there’s never been any reason to linger at the corner of Coxwell and Gerrard.
Farm girl Dawn Chapman’s charming new space has all the coziness of a hayloft with apple box shelving and harvest tables created from reclaimed barn wood. From free-range eggs and drug-free meats, we love that all ingredients on the menu are straight from the fields. We spotted locals mooing over Hunger Parfait with quinoa and wildflower honey ($6.95) and Comfort & Spice sandwiches with gooey melted cheese and curried apple chutney ($5.25).
Hi-ho, the derry-o. —Marianne Wisenthal
Lazy Daisy’s Cafe, 1515 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, 647-278-3966, www.facebook.com
October 7th, 2011
It used to be fashion, but these days I’ve traded Missoni for meringues and spend my free time in the food blogosphere instead.
I don’t even cook that much, but I love to eat, and Spoon Fork Bacon is the ultimate food blog for ladies who love a good nosh. Have you seen it? It’s absolutely stunning. Rue Magazine contributors Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park combine a talent for cooking, food styling and photography to create a blog even makes little kitchen klutz want to cook for ten hours straight. The recipes are decadent, and yes, big on the pig.
Leaf eaters need not apply. —Athena Tsavliris
September 16th, 2011
Want to try your hand at a DIY pizza-pie? Cheat a little and buy the dough. Here’s our roundup of the city’s top crusts:
This one can be tricky to work and gets a bit sticky but with patience you can create the best pizza this side of Naples.
Not as much “chew” and taste, but the crust bubbles nicely and it’s easy to roll out.
The in-store pizza is pretty delicious, but unless your oven cranks to over 500 degrees we wouldn’t bother with this one. In our oven it stays a little too moist and never really seems fully cooked.
This is the in-a-pinch dough. It’s not as good as the rest, but it’ll satisfy your pizza cravings just fine.
August 12th, 2011
Our editors had the extremely hard job (someone's got to do it!) of sampling some of the summer's best wines. Kick back, raise a glass and discover which vinos made this year's list.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio,
My friend insists I buy this whenever she comes over, for reasons that are made clearer with one light, desert-dry sip. It goes easily with anything you'd think to drink white with (seafood, sweets) and disappears at an alarming rate. Plus, the bottle's pretty, and that's like seventy per cent of how I choose wine. $16.95 at LCBO (Vintages), www.vintages.com
Rosato Sagaris 2010, Cantine Madonna Delle Grazie, Aglianico
This shell-pink wine is actual magic: starts as a crisp, almost flowery white and finishes as a full-bloom, swoony red. The bartender convinced me to try it at Parts & Labour recently, and I was so not sorry. $10/glass, $50/bottle at Parts & Labour, 1566 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-588-7750, www.partsandlabour.ca
The Beach House Rose 2010
I recently met a lovely man who writes as “The Wine Ponce” for the Grid, and this is one of his recent recos. A hot-blush pink with a high-summer name, it tastes like strawberries and dandelion leaves. And it's not as acidic as you'd think, given the cheap price. $9.95 at LCBO, www.lcbo.com
7 Deadly Zins
My friend, Vitamin Daily contributor and excellent drinker, Paige Dzenis, loves this one, calling it a spicy zinfandel perfect for “I deserve to drink a fancy bottle of wine" nights. $24.95 at LCBO (Vintages), www.vintages.com
LaMadrid Single Vineyard Reserva Bonarda 2008
Bonardo is Argentina's other grape, making for lighter, fruit-full reds that aren't super-tannic. This one tastes of mid-August bush berries, with traces of aubergine and Chinese black vinegar, a soupcon or two of shade-grown basil and the redolence of pinecones. No, I made that up. But it's good! $16.95 at LCBO (Vintages), www.vintages.com —Sarah Nicole Prickett
August 11th, 2011
Last week one of our favourite Dundas West spots quietly reopened: the Black Hoof. Famous for bringing nose-to-tail eating to Toronto, it's doing nose-to-cocktails now, too. Across from the restaurant, where a brunch spot used to be, is a excellent watering hole.
The menu, concocted by Jen Agg, features over a dozen modern mixes and classic recipes organized by liquors white (gin, rum…) or brown (bourbon, tequila…). The Violet Bourbon Sour, with homemade violet simple syrup, is just sour-sweet enough, and a fresh flower garnish floats delicately on its frothy head. Here, cocktails really are an art: we watch a bartender paint the inside of our glass with absinthe for the Corpse Reviver #2. It leaves the perfect trace of anise to mix with gin, Cointreau and Lillet. A cheese plate is available if you’re feeling peckish, but you’ll have to cross the street for charcuterie. Even without the food, we suspect Thursday nights will be just as crowded as Sunday brunches once were.
It won't be quiet for long. —Paige Dzenis
Black Hoof, 923 Dundas St. W., Toronto, www.theblackhoof.com, open Thursday to Monday, 5:30pm until last call.