All stories by Gregory Furgala

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Eight Halloween costume ideas for the discerning Torontonian, from the Ikea Monkey to the Cronut Burger

halloween-costumes-2013

halloween-ikea-monkey

Darwin, the Ikea Monkey

What you’ll need: Darwin is now going clothing free at an animal sanctuary, but you can revisit last winter’s media frenzy with a monkey ear headband and a cute shearling coat.
Extra Credit: You maintain a melt-your-heart abandoned expression the entire night.


halloween-flood

The Flood

What you’ll need: A cardboard mockup of a silver 2013 Ferrari California, and a brown sheet rigged up to some pulleys so you can “submerge” the car mid-party.
Extra credit: You spritz fellow revellers with a spray bottle of water.


halloween-walmart

Walmart in Kensington Market

What you’ll need: This one doesn’t require much to be scary: just wear a blue vest, greet guests with a smile and periodically say, “Welcome to the Kensington Market Walmart.” Chilling.
Extra credit: You buy a ton of Halloween candy and sell it at rock-bottom prices.


halloween-cronut

The Cronut Burger

What you’ll need: With enough Styrofoam, paint and maple-bacon jam, you can recreate the ill-fated treat that made headlines for its caloric excess, and then for its high bacterial content.
Extra Credit: Toronto Public Health tells you to go home.


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The Dish

Trend Watch

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Trend We Love: wait list–only restaurants that are now taking reservations

The County General now takes lunch reservations (Image: Laurent Hilaire)

No one likes spending hours in the cold waiting for a table at a hot new restaurant. But ever since The Black Hoof opened in 2008, it’s become de rigueur for new spots to spurn reservations in favour of buzz-building lineups out the door. Thankfully, there are signs of change, and some of those very restaurants have now recanted from their earlier ways. We’ve rounded up the most recent places to make the switch below:

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Cheese descriptions are getting a little out of hand 

The latest young turks to take literary New York by storm: the cheesemongers. A recent New York Times article surveyed the new breed of cheese labels and tags that has emerged to lend appeal to more obscure products, like Bavarian Adelleger (one cheese wag wrote of it: “Just think of a scene in a movie where the lead actress, obviously one of the greats, turns around slowly and walks away from the camera taking your entire attention with her.”). In these descriptions, tasting notes take a backseat to references to Lindsay Lohan, sparkly nail polish and, inevitably, sex. The practice isn’t without its critics, of course: one seller had to tone things down after a customer objected to a Nostradamus reference. Toronto’s cheese shops have yet to rise to such lyrical heights on their labels—although there’s something to said for the more utilitarian prose at, say, About Cheese. Read the entire story [New York Times] »

The Dish

Licious

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Alternalicious: a roundup of Winterlicious 2013’s prix fix rebels

Bent’s braised spiced short ribs, one of the critic-endorsed picks on their Susurlicious menu (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Winterlicious can be a double-edged sword for diners. Yes, there’s the prospect of great deals that you’d never get otherwise—except during Summerlicious—but the crowds are thick, the servers are frazzled and the ’licious menu doesn’t always measure up to the usual fare. For years, some restaurants have opted to keep the deals but skip the chaos, responding to Winterlicious with prix fixes of their own. We’ve rounded up the best of them below.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Queen Margherita Pizza’s Baby Point location is set to open in two weeks

(Image: notpeppermint from the Torontolife.com Flickr group)

Back in September, we told you that Queen Margherita Pizza was opening a new location at 785 Annette Street. Now we can tell you the opening date: February 4. Owner John Chetti also told us that construction is still underway at the Dundas and Bathurst location, which could be open as early as March. Your move, Libretto.

The Dish

Closings

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Queen West’s Prague European Kitchen closes after only five months

(Image: Courtesy Prague European Kitchen)

Late last summer, the decades-old Prague Find Food Emporium reopened under new ownership as Prague European Kitchen. Now, a notice posted on the restaurant’s door has announced that the new incarnation has shuttered as well:

Prague has been sold as of January 20th and is no longer in operation. New owners will be taking over the space as of February 1st.

No word yet on whether the newest set of owners will be keeping the Prague name alive.

The Informer

Sports

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Best Bets: unofficial odds for our favourite Toronto Maple Leafs off-the-ice storylines in 2013

NHL hockey is finally here after a 119-day standoff between owners and the players union that robbed fans of nearly half the season. The Toronto Maple Leafs begin the season on the road against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night, and Toronto’s ever-loyal fans are readying their jerseys and face paint. Unfortunately, the Leafs’ chances of hoisting the cup this year are slim (Vegas oddsmakers peg them at 40:1). Given that, and our love of absurdly arbitrary sports odds-making, we dreamed up a few other possibilites that you probably won’t find in the local sports pages but will make good fodder for friendly wagers.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Grand Electric’s second floor falls victim to the Parkdale restaurant moratorium (UPDATED)

Grand Electric’s second-storey expansion, which would’ve added 40 seats to perennially packed taco bar, is on hold due to the Parkdale strip restaurant ban. Co-owner Ian McGrenaghan told Post City the suspension came as a surprise, since GE applied for the necessary permits prior to the ban and had nearly finished construction. Barring a successful legal challenge, the second floor is unlikely to open until the moratorium expires in November, contrary to what local councillor Gord Perks indicated at the time it went into effect. [Post City]

UPDATE: Councillor Perks confirmed to us that Grand Electric did indeed get their application in before the deadline. That application, however, did not conform to the building code and zoning bylaws, and was consequently rejected—after the moratorium was already in place.

The Dish

Restaurants

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The new restaurants at Pearson Airport are starting to open

Cibo Express

The new Pearson International Airport dining options we told you about last year are finally starting to roll out. First up, health food take-out stand Cibo Express, which opened last month in Terminal 1, followed closely by Heirloom, a new a health-conscious bakery café from Devin Connell (Delica, Paulette’s). In February, Mark McEwan’Fetta Panini Bar should open, and by the summer, look for Marathi, a casual curry-meets-street-food spot from Hemant Bhagwani of Amaya. After that, launch dates get a little murky, but expect restaurants or bars from Claudio Aprile, Rocco Agostino, Guy Rubino, Brock Shepherd and John Szabo, all of them run by New York restaurant operator OTG Management. At this time last year, who would’ve imagined that Pearson would have more restaurants opening in 2013 than Parkdale?

UPDATE (Jan. 17): We’ve just heard that Boccone, Massimo Capra’s Italian restaurant, will open in Terminal 1 on Tuesday, January 22.

The Informer

Politics

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Glen Murray hopes his killer lasagna will make him Ontario’s premier

The backroom politicking ahead of this month’s Liberal leadership convention is now feverishly underway, with rival candidates quietly meeting in restaurants, bars and each other’s homes, trying to establish alliances in the seven-way race. During the convention, the lowest-ranked candidate after each ballot must drop out, and usually throws his or her support behind a remaining hopeful, making this early, behind-the-scenes maneuvering all-important. That’s why would-be premier Glen Murray is unleashing his secret weapon: homemade lasagna, most recently deployed for a home meeting with rival hopeful Sandra Pupatello. It’s not quite as crazy it sounds: no less than British prime minister David Cameron has wooed politicians with a cheesy plate of pasta. However, Murray did acknowledge he may need another trick (or a nice carpaccio) to win the majority—he’s currently sitting in a distant fourth place. [Toronto Star]

(Images: Glen Murray and Sandra Pupatello, Facebook; lasagna, Randolph Croft)

The Goods

Random Stuff

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Bridal Wave: five of the best upcoming Toronto bridal shows

(Image: National Bridal Show)

With banquets, dancing, flowers and open bars, there’s very little not to like about weddings. There’s sometimes very little to like, however, in the chaotic months spent organizing it all. Wedding shows and bridal shows can make the process relatively painless by gathering together everything you need to get hitched without a hitch. Below, we’ve rounded up the best Toronto bridal shows from now until the end of April.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The Real Jerk turns to crowd-funding to bring its old mural to its new space

(Image: The Real Jerk)

No Caribbean restaurant in Toronto has managed to attract quite as much press coverage as The Real Jerk, whose scrappy story of a mom-and-pop shop pushed out by a big, bad landlord galvanized a tremendous amount of goodwill from the community. Now that they’re set to open a new location down the street from their old one, owners Ed and Lily Pottinger are hoping to monetize that sentiment to transplant the restaurant’s familiar smiling-sun mural. Or rather, an 18-by-12-foot photo of the mural, which will be installed in the new dining room, as shown above.

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The Dish

Food TV

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Second time’s a bust for Zane Caplanksy on Dragons’ Den 

Zane Caplansky’s second appearance on Dragons’ Den ended the same way as his first: without a deal. The Caplansky’s Delicatessen owner was looking for $360,000 to deploy a fleet of his Thundering Thelma food trucks nationwide, but was only willing to give up 18 per cent of his company (one interesting detail he revealed: the truck pulls in profit of around 30 to 40 per cent). Dragons Arlene Dickinson and Kevin O’Leary each responded with counteroffers for a much bigger stake in the company, but Caplansky held his ground, preferring to keep the “big piece of a big brisket” he already owns. Watch the episode [CBC] »

The Informer

Real Estate

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The Toronto Star’s old parking lot could soon house Canada’s two tallest condo towers

Pinnacle’s proposal would see five new towers next to the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge Street (Image: Taxiarchos228)

The plans for a large-scale development at 1 Yonge Street, currently home to a set of low-rise buildings and the Toronto Star’s old parking lot, are even more ambitious than last summer’s rumours suggested. Late last week, Urban Toronto published a pair of architectural sketches showing Pinnacle International’s plans for a skyline-defining, five-tower development that would include Canada’s two tallest skyscrapers. Alongside the 92-storey and 98-storey buildings, the cluster would also contain an office tower of some 30 storeys, two 70-storey towers and street-level retail space (the Toronto Star office at the corner of Yonge and Queens Quay would remain untouched). The proposal is still in its infancy as the city has requested Pinnacle wait to formally submit it until after Waterfront Toronto has finished a study on future development in the area, which may not be until late summer. Moreover, as with Oxford Properties’ Convention Centre plans and David Mirvish and Frank Gehry’s theatre district proposal, questions remain over the area’s ability to sustain a set of monolithic residential towers. Although, at least Pinnacle would only be razing a parking lot, and not a beloved theatre. [Urban Toronto]

The Dish

Drinks

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Cold Comfort: 11 winter patios for Toronto’s class of dedicated outdoor diners

The Drake Sky Yard (Image: Connie Tsang/The Drake Hotel)

Toronto’s love of patios is a curious, twisted thing. Even when the day’s high is minus-something-awful and snow blankets the streets, Toronotonians will do seemingly anything for a snatch of sky with their meal. It’s a point of great northern pride, a desperate attempt to pretend winter isn’t, well, winter and, really, just plain weird. To the city’s most stubborn patio-philes, we both salute you and question your grip on reality. We also offer 11 restaurants and bars with a fully fuctional winter patio—so you can tackle the year’s toughest months with drink in hand and toque on head.

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