Toronto’s Best…

Winterlicious- My top 3 menus

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January 30 to February 12, 2015
Toronto’s winter culinary celebration is the perfect opportunity to discover diverse cuisine in a variety of local restaurants and take part in unique culinary events.

ARCHEO

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$18 Lunch

Plus taxes and gratuity

Choice of Appetizer

Caesar Salad
smoky bacon, creamy dressing
or
Homemade Minestrone Milanese (vegetarian)
vegetable soup with orzo, kidney beans, freshly grated parmigianino reggiano and a pine nut pesto
or
Bruschetta
blistered heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh ricotta, crusty baguette

Choice of Main Course

Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich
breaded chicken breast, mozzarella, tomato sauce
or
Margherita Flatbread
tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil
or
Angus Beef Cheeseburger
grilled portobello mushroom and cheddar, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and aioli

Choice of Dessert

Tiramisu Crème Brulee
chocolate drizzle lady finger
or
Warm Maple Apple Crisp
oatmeal walnut streusel and chantilly cream
or
Chocolate Gianduja Budino
frangelico crema and crisp candied rice

Dinner $25

Choice of Appetizer

Homemade Minestrone Milanese (vegetarian)
vegetable soup with orzo, kidney beans, freshly grated parmigianino reggiano and a pine nut pesto
or
Grilled Octopus
aromatic orzo pilaf baked with raisins, oregano and spicy tomato
or
Caesar Salad
smoky bacon, creamy dressing

Choice of Main Course

Grilled Salmon
with tuscan kale, capers and lemon rosemary butter
or
Forest Mushroom Flatbread
a seasonal mix of forest mushrooms, pesto, ricotta and mozzarella
or
Lamb Ragout Lumachini
braised lamb shank, tomato sauce, pesto, ricotta and fresh oregano

Choice of Dessert

Tiramisu Crème Brulee
chocolate drizzle lady finger
or
Warm Maple Apple Crisp
oatmeal walnut streusel and chantilly cream
or
Chocolate Gianduja Budino
frangelico crema and crisp candied rice

CLUNY

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$23 Lunch

Plus taxes and gratuity

Choice of Appetizer

Spice Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (vegetarian)
puffed wheat berries, almond milk chantilly
or
Cluny Black Kale “Caesar”
balsamic dressing, smoked cheddar and chick peas
or
Pressed Chicken Terrine “Nicoise Style”
pickled beans, tomato jam and black olives

Choice of Main Course

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Tagine (vegetarian)
couscous, harissa and apricot
or
Tomato and Saffron Braised Calamari
basque style stewed peppers and fennel
or
Alsatian Choucroute Sandwich
braised pork shank, sauerkraut, mustard, frites

Choice of Dessert

Roasted Hazelnut Profiterole
chocolate chantilly
or
Lavender Blackcurrant Macaroon
wild strawberry coulis
or
Pomegranate Granita

$35 Dinner

Plus taxes and gratuity

Choice of Appetizer

Spice Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (vegetarian)
puffed wheat berries, crab and almond milk chantilly
or
Cluny Black Kale “Caesar”
balsamic dressing, smoked cheddar and chick peas
or
Pressed Chicken Terrine “Nicoise Style”
pickled beans, tomato jam and black olives
or
Tomato and Saffron Braised Calamari
basque style stewed peppers and fennel

Choice of Main Course

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Tagine (vegetarian)
couscous, harissa and apricot
or
Alsatian Choucroute Sandwich
braised pork shank, sauerkraut, mustard, frites
or
Beer Braised Beef Cheeks
celeriac and barley stew, roasted sprouts, fresh horseradish
or
BBQ Steelhead Trout
flageolet beans, roasted heirloom carrots, almond sauce

Choice of Dessert

Roasted Hazelnut Profiterole
chocolat chaud and chantilly
or
Lavender Blackcurrant Macaroon
wild strawberry coulis and torched vanilla meringue
or
Granny Smith Sorbet

HARLEM EAST

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$18 Lunch

Plus taxes and gratuity

Choice of Appetizer

Cornbread (vegetarian)
Fresh in house made cornbread mini loaf
or
Deep Fried Pickles (vegetarian)
Crispy crunchy deep fried goodness
or
Deep Fried Okra (vegetarian)
Fresh okra coated in seasoned batter

Choice of Main Course

Southern Fried Chicken & Waffles
Paired with scotch-bonnet-coriander lime syrup & homemade gravy
or
Jerk Beef Meatloaf
Harlem’s famous jerk beef meatloaf with basmati rice & apple chutney
or
Fish n Chips
Two pieces of seasoned catfish in a Red Stripe batter swimming alongside sweet potato fries & spicy tartar sauce
or
Caribbean Curried Vegetable Stew (vegetarian)
Root vegetables & chickpeas, stewed in Caribbean yellow curry, on coconut rice-n-peas
or
The Roasted Jerk
Roasted jerk chicken with sweet fried plantain, Monterrey Jack, scotch-bonnet mayo served toasted coco bread

Choice of Dessert

Candied Plantain (vegetarian)
Sautéed in a brown sugar caramel sauce
or
Coconut Cream Tart (vegetarian)
With chocolate drizzle & toasted coconut in a shortbread butter tart
or
Chocolate Ganache Tart (vegetarian)
With caramel drizzle & pecans in a shortbread butter tart

$25 Dinner

Plus taxes and gratuity

Choice of Appetizer

Cornbread (vegetarian)
Fresh in house made cornbread mini loaf
or
Deep Fried Pickles (vegetarian)
Crispy crunchy deep fried goodness
or
Kale, Pear & Walnut Salad (vegetarian)
Massaged kale tossed in a balsamic dressing garnished with crunchy fresh pear & chopped walnuts
or
Catfish Lafayette
Seasoned & breaded deep fried morsels served with a sweet chili sauce creamy chipotle mayo

Choice of Main Course

Southern Fried Chicken & Waffles
Paired with scotch-bonnet-coriander lime syrup & homemade gravy
or
Jerk Beef Meatloaf
Harlem’s famous jerk beef meatloaf with basmati rice & apple chutney
or
Blackened Catfish
Topped with a shrimp étoufée sauce with a side of collard greens & basmati rice
or
Caribbean Curried Vegetable Stew (vegetarian)
Root vegetables & Chickpeas, stewed in Caribbean yellow curry, on coconut rice-n-peas
or
Harlem Jambalaya (can be made vegetarian)
A medley of shrimp, chicken & hot Italian sausage topped with pan-seared catfish, harmoniously singing together in this traditional rice dish

Choice of Dessert

Candied Plantain (vegetarian)
Sautéed in a brown sugar caramel sauce
or
Coconut Cream Tart (vegetarian)
With chocolate drizzle & toasted coconut in a shortbread butter tart
or
Chocolate Ganache Tart (vegetarian)
With caramel drizzle & pecans in a shortbread butter tart

Artist to watch: Jacqueline Poirier

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It was sometime last year, that I noticed these fabulous plates while visiting my sister-in-law at The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto.  I later learned that these beautiful creations were individually hand painted by Jacqueline Poirier, a toronto based artist.  She paints everything from food and pets to people and city street signs.  Her attention to detail is incredible as she transforms a simple dinner plate into a one of a kind treasure.  Custom orders are available.  Contact Jacqueline for a quote.

About the artist:

Jacqueline Poirier offers unique hand-painted charger plates, inspired by her love of art and penchant for individuality. Choose from her current collection, or custom-order your own personalized designs and portraits. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, corporate and special events – plate art is the perfect gift for any occasion! The colourful and eye-catching designs are also a unique and decorative addition to any restaurant interior or formal table setting.

Poirier is currently on display and in collaboration with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Toronto, in one of the city’s newest fine dining establishments, TOCA Restaurant. Her work can also be seen in various locations throughout Toronto and New York City, and has been featured in publications such as The National Post, the Globe and Mail, and Now Magazine. A graduate of the esteemed Ontario College of Art and Design, Poirier specializes in custom and commissioned art works – and she shares her love of “plArt” with you!

Website: http://www.JacquelinePoirier.com
Instagram: @thecrazyplatelady
Facebook:www.facebook.com/JacquelinePoirierART
Twitter: @jacquelineap
Email: info@jacquelinepoirier.com
iPhone APP: Jacqueline Poirier

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The best Farmers Markets in Toronto

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Brick Works Farmers’ Market
The farmers’ market at Evergreen Brick Works offers so much more than produce shopping. Saturday morning visitors are treated to music, kids’ activities, and special tastings and information sessions, all while they feast on an organic hot dog or sugar-free lemonade. The vendors offer everything from knife sharpening to naturally raised meats, with a focus on heath for body and environment. A foodie paradise from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dufferin Grove
Dufferin Grove’s farmers’ market wins big points for accessibility. It’s easily accessed by various forms of transit, open all year long (moved inside the rink house during the winter), and perfect for weekday nine-to-fivers. The market is held each Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., offering shoppers the opportunity to pick up some Georgian Bay fish or local organic beef on the way home from work, and sheep’s milk ice cream cones to enjoy while they shop.

St. Lawrence Market North
The farmers’ market at St. Lawrence Market North is known for great samples, great variety, and great conversations with knowledgeable local vendors. Seemingly always up for a chat, you’ll certainly get to know just what went into your Mouton Rouge cheese or gluten-free bread is you go ahead and ask. Open every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wychwood Park/Wychwood Barns
Technically called “The Stop’s Farmers’ Market,” but known colloquially as “that awesome market at Wychwood Barns.” This is another market that is open all year round, and usually packed with 30 or 40 vendors and operating each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Market favourites include Kurtis CoffeeSugar Mammas Mini Donuts, and Bizjak Farms.

Sorauren Farmers’ Market
Operated by the West-End Food Coop, the Sorauren Farmers’ Market is somewhat no-frills, but definitely offers all of those farmers’ market staples. You’ll find a mix of vendors here including those known to make the farmers’ market rounds (ChocoSolYing Ying Soy Food), as well as smaller operations (Baba Link FarmdeFloured). The market is hosted in Sorauren Park every Monday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Leslieville Farmers’ Market
A newbie to Toronto’s farmers’ market scene but already drawing huge crowds to Jonathan Ashbridge Park. The Leslieville Farmers’ Market has dozens of vendors offering everything from produce to meats to prepared foods, with a couple of familiar Leslieville faces (HookedLPK’s Culinary GrooveCanadian Pie Company) setting up stalls for the Sunday event. Activities for kids, and the odd cookbook swap, too. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Junction Farmers’ Market
From newbie to newest. The Junction Farmers’ Market may still be in its inaugural year, but it has already garnered the attention of some 20ish vendors and plenty of west-end residents keen on local foods. Operating out of a Green P parking lot at Dundas and Pacific, the market is stocked with farm-fresh foods, specialty honeys, sustainable seafood, and handmade charcuterie. This one’s a popular one, so come early. Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market
At the northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park, this market is somewhat small compared to others on this list but still manages to keep all the food basics covered. Ali’s Fish Shack and Monforte Dairy Co. and definite stars here at the market, but so too is St. John’s Bakery (a treat for Queen West) andBona Fide Bean Coffee. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies as well. Hosted each Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

East Lynn Farmers’ Market
Five years and counting, the East Lynn Farmers’ Market is a favourite summer attraction for the Danforth and Woodbine community. While the kids seem to flock straight to the face-painting tent (and can you blame them?) the food-minded focus in on the farm-fresh fruits, organic veggies, and freshly cut flowers. And meats, of course. The market has also started to feature prepared foods by area business owners. Each Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Etobicoke Civic Centre Farmers’ Market
Etobicoke, too, has its own lineup of farmers’ markets, and the Saturday event hosted at the Civic Centre is perhaps best of them all. The space is swarmed from market onset in June to its close in November, packed with people looking for farm-fresh eggs, meats, and produce. Fruits and veggies make up the bulk of the spread, but natural honey and maple syrups don’t go unappreciated. Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Appletree Markets
Recently relocating to June Rowlands Park at Davisville and Mount Pleasant, AppleTree Market has been offering the farmers’ market experience to midtown Toronto for the last several years. Hosted spring through fall Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the market is packed with more than 30 vendors offering organic, naturally raised, and sustainable foods, as well as also plans to feature a new food truck each week. That’s right; Ontario grown strawberries, and deli meats from a truck.

Riverdale Farm Farmers’ Market
This market gives new meaning to the words “farm fresh” (though, of course, the spread comes from elsewhere…nevermind). Riverdale Farm hosts its own farmers’ market just outside its main gates on Tuesday afternoons. There you’ll find plenty of preserves, a good assortment of plants and flowers, and lots of organic Ontario-grown produce. Held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays during the season, extending farm operating hours.

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Introducing… The Leslieville Flea

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The Leslieville Flea takes place one Sunday a month from 10am to 4pm!

It is made up of a variety of vendors selling one of a kind items, furniture, hand crafted designs, antiques, vintage clothing, designer pieces and more.

The Leslieville Flea (@leslievilleflea) will be at the#distillerydistrict Fermenting Cellar, 28 Distillery Lane, this coming Sunday February 23rd  10am-5pm.
For a list of all 50 fabulous vendors go towww.leslievilleflea.com.

Just in time for Valentine’s day- Romantic tables for two in Toronto

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Toronto is a beautiful city of history, multiculturalism, great music, fabulous art and delicious cuisine. It can be difficult to choose the perfect restaurant for a romantic evening with that special someone.  Have a look below at a full list of the most romantic tables for two in the city.

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WhatJacob’s Steakhouse
Where: 12 Brant St. (King and Spadina)
Romantic vibes: Low lights, sink-into-and-stay-there banquettes and arguably the best steak in the city
Price point: Let’s just say — there’s a 25 oz. T-bone on the menu for $93

WhatWeezie’s
Where: 354 King St. E. (King and Parliament)
Romantic vibes: Heavy curtains, blink-and-you-miss-it location, gourmet comfort food
Price point: Dinner for two for $80 easily

WhatSpuntini
Where: 116 Avenue Rd. (between Davenport and Bloor)
Romantic vibes: Candles on every table, curtains allowing for privacy, tables tucked into nooks
Price point: Three-course meals for $50 per person

WhatCava
Where: 1560 Yonge St. (north of St. Clair)
Romantic vibes: Well-separate tables, low lighting and plates meant for sharing
Price point: Dinner for two for around $130

WhatFrank’s Kitchen
Where: 588 College St. (between Bathurst and Ossington)
Romantic vibes: Intimate tables and a hard-to-get reservation means you’ll have tons of privacy
Price point: $120 for dinner for two with wine, tax and tip, according to the Globe and Mail, though it’s probably closer to $160

WhatDonatello Restaurant
Where: 37 Elm St. (Yonge and Dundas)
Romantic vibes: The three rooms of this spot provide plenty of options — not to mention an ideal place to eat if you’re heading to the theatre after
Price point: Four courses average about $45 per person

WhatFive Doors North
Where: 2088 Yonge St. (between Davisville and Eglinton)
Romantic vibes: The patina and dim lighting of this spot make this a more casual, sexy dinner
Price point: Dinner for two can be had for $80

WhatGeorge
Where: 111C Queen St. E. (Queen and Church)
Romantic vibes: There’s a lot of tables, but also, a lot of space between them — and the decor is simply swoon-worthy.
Price point: Three courses will run each person a pricey $60 each; five-course tasting menus starting at $80.

WhatKalendar
Where: 546 College St. (College and Bathurst)
Romantic vibes: Decor that combines wood and glam, an accessible (read: delicious but original) menu and cozy booths
Price point: You could easily have dinner for two for $110

WhatLa Palette
Where: 492 Queen St. W. (east of Bathurst)
Romantic vibes: Dim lights, French food and a real love for champagne
Price point: A very filling three courses for average of $50 per person; three-course prix fixe for $35 a person

WhatAuberge Du Pommier
Where: 4150 Yonge St. (Yonge and York Mills)
Romantic vibes: Wood-burning fireplaces, dining room chairs that feel more like armchairs and the general ambiance of a French country home.
Price point: Three courses (including dessert) average $75 per person.

WhatMogette Bistro
Where: 581 Mount Pleasant Rd. (north of Davisville)
Romantic vibes: Lovely plating, plenty of room for couples and a decor reminiscent of (what else?) a French bistro
Price point: Two can dine for $100

WhatCanoe
Where: 66 Wellington St. W., 54th floor (just west of Bay)
Romantic vibes: A view that literally no other restaurant in the city can compete with
Price point: Dinner can easily cost $180 per couple

WhatCaffino
Where: 1185 King Street West (at Dufferin)
Romantic vibes: It’s hard not to feel romanced by the fireplaces, cafe-style chairs and flowers on each table. There’s a reason it’s also a popular (small) wedding venue
Price point: Dinner for two for $110

WhatLola’s Kitchen
Where: 634 Church St. (at Bloor)
Romantic vibes: Lots of space for pairs, and lots of space between tables makes for intimate dinners
Price point: Dinner for two for $75

WhatLocal Kitchen & Wine Bar
Where: 1710 Queen St. W. (at Roncesvalles)
Romantic vibes: Chalkboard menus, cozy tables, incredibly good pasta
Price point: Mains between $20 to $30, according to Toronto Life

WhatPic Nic
Where: 747 Queen St. E. (east of Broadview)
Romantic vibes: Say it with us — wine bar. That, plus cozy tables and great sharing plates make this an ideal date spot.
Price point: Dinner for two for $65 — though it all depends on how much wine you drink

WhatJoso’s
Where: 202 Davenport Rd. (at Avenue Rd.)
Romantic vibes: Filled with the owners’ art and music (which yes, features plenty of naked women), this classic spot seems built for couples.
Price point: It’s easy to spend a lot (like $80 a person a lot) for dinner

WhatThe Fifth Grill & Terrace
Where: 225 Richmond St. W. (Queen and University)
Romantic vibes: A great view, a wood-burning fireplace, and for such an expansive room, a surprisingly intimate feeling
Price point: Dinner for two can easily run to $140

WhatUnion
Where: 72 Ossington Ave. (north of Queen)
Romantic vibes: Dining in a couple but still want a crowd? Union always suits pairs without needing to get all dark and cozy about it — and there are plenty of shareable plates
Price point: Dinner for two for approximately $110

WhatPomegranate
Where: 420 College St. (at Bathurst)
Romantic vibes: Lighting via stunning Persian lanterns, jewel tones and food that truly satisfies
Price point: Dinner for two for $70

The best butter chicken in Toronto

00e3fafe81f17ac2deb6932d562990e2Banjara Indian Cuisine

Right next to Christie Pits Park in what looks like it could’ve been a 7/11 many moons ago, Banjara keeps the local populace happy by churning out incredible food. The butter chicken is soft, delicate, and just plain yummy and goes incredibly well with Chef Raj Veerella’s all organic naan. The portions are large and get even larger when you do takeout. No wonder it’s numero uno.

Amaya

An empire in the making with its 7 locations from food courts to elegant restaurants and a line of sauces and naan available at Pusateri’s, McKewans, Longos and Metro alike, one would expect quality to suffer, but boy does it not. The colour of sunset, the aromatic cinnamon hits you first, but the taste is wonderfully layered, delicate and complex. Magical.

Babur

On Queen West for the last 8 years, this family business is a mainstay that got a wicked redesign in 2008 by Commute Home. Chef Parveen Singh’s butter chicken is beautifully presented and has a rich creamy burnt orange colour and knock-out deep flavour that perfectly complements the long grain basmati rice you won’t find anywhere else.

 

Curry Twist

Currently tearing it up in the Junction (although it’s been here 9 and half years), the colourful decor and spice dictionary that greet you are immediately supplanted by the incredible smells emanating from the open kitchen. The butter chicken recipe is a secret Chef Anant Singh won’t share but is straight from the neighbourhood in New Delhi where his family grew up. So if you want authentic, here’s a good bet.

Gandhi Roti

Chef and owner Avtar Singh has been serving up his incredibly loyal clientele some of the best and biggest butter chicken around for the last 15 years. Using 35% cream, no butter and adding potato to the mix the only improvement one might make (and it’s his suggestion) is to mix a little of his mint chutney in with the butter chicken adding another layer of flavour and the tiniest touch of heat. Namaste.

The Host

With the ambiance of an English Colonial library this Annex resto has a decidedly upscale feel, a wonderful solarium and lots of vegetation that really sets the mood for a sub-continental meal. The butter chicken has a fabulous consistency that’s creamy but retains the taste and texture of the tomato base. Combine the sauce with juicy chunks of all white chicken and a hint of ginger and you have a winner.

 

Kamasutra

One of 2 Bayview reps on the list, Kamasutra is a large open space with a huge bar and patio. It’s grain fed chicken is not tandooried, but baked and finished North Indian style with fenugreek, house masala, butter, light cream, and all local Ontario tomatoes. With 90% of all customers ordering it, something smells good!

309 Dhaba

Chef PK is a man who loves his food and it shows. Using organic chicken that’s been marinated for 24 hours in garlic, sundried fenugreek, and 5 spice mix, it’s then sealed in the tandoor and finished 3 different ways using blanched and ground tomatoes, cream and love. Topped with garlic chives and strawberries that add a wonderful splash of acidity, it’s an elegant dish that’s complex and ridiculously tasty.

Waterfalls Indian Tapas

Open for two years, this cavernous space on Augusta is one of the few that uses butter when finishing the dish. Chef Kishore uses nice big chunks of all white meat along with bay leaves, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli powder, salt and sugar for his red sauce that’s a little less creamy than some, but no less tasty. Best in Kensington, hands down.

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