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La Tortilleria makes an awful lot of tortillas

80,000

—The number of tortillas churned out per day by the team at La Tortilleria, the local Mexican food chain, according to a recent article in the Star. That’s 55.5 per minute!

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Restaurants

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An update on Trambusto, the Mike Harris–backed Italian chain that was threatening to invade Toronto

(Images: Trambusto/Facebook; Levetto/Twitter)

(Images: Trambusto/Facebook; Levetto/Twitter)

Last fall, we wrote about Trambusto, a new pizza-pasta chain that had $100 million in funding, former Teatro chef Shahir Massoud overseeing the food and a powerful fairy-godmother type in the form of ex-premier Mike Harris. At the time, the chain’s management had opened a single location in Vaughan, but they were planning to launch 20 more outlets in the next few months, and 100 over the course of five years. Now, almost a year into the scheme, things aren’t progressing quite as well as anticipated.

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People

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Farmhouse Tavern’s Alex Molitz is taking on Prince Edward County

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe 2013: Duck Trio

(Image: Raina and Wilson)

Alex Molitz, the chef who helped turn Farmhouse Tavern into a Toronto food destination, is taking his talents to the real-life countryside. Molitz recently left Farmhouse and took a new job as head of culinary operations at the Hinterland winery in Prince Edward County. He’s got big plans for the project. “It’ll change the face of Prince Edward County,” he said. “If everything goes right, this is going to be a game-changer.” Despite the grand plans, he’s taking things one step at a time. Right now, that means developing a simple lunch menu for guests at the winery. The food will be familiar to anyone who’s enjoyed Farmhouse Tavern’s mammoth meat boards and foraged herbs. “It’s going to be rough and rugged, cool-looking food. Food that has a story to it,” Molitz said. He’s looking forward to roughing it a little, although he suspects some things may take a little getting used to. “I have to learn to shovel pig shit,” he said.

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Restaurants

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Red Lobster is going upscale (sort of)

(Images: Red Lobster)

(Images: Red Lobster)

Thanks to years’ worth of commercials celebrating its suspiciously dirt-cheap seafood platters, Red Lobster has become known as the kind of restaurant whose food should probably be approached with some degree of caution. Now, someone’s trying to change that. The seafood chain was recently offloaded by its parent company and acquired by a San Francisco investment firm for $1.5 billion. According to The Associated Press, Red Lobster’s new CEO, Kim Lopdrup, has made it his mission to totally change everyone’s perceptions about the quality of the chain’s food. Rather than making any hasty menu revisions, though, Lopdrup is banking on visual cues to sway public opinion. For instance, the plates used going forward will be circular instead of rectangular, and tilapia filets will be draped dramatically over the rice pilaf, rather than laid out flat next to it. Going forward, Lopdrup also plans to ditch some of Red Lobster’s more extravagant discounts, keeping only the sensible, classy ones, like “Endless Shrimp” for $15.

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Food Events

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The Cheese Boutique is hosting a comic book–themed food festival

(Image: The Cheese Boutique/Facebook)

(Image: The Cheese Boutique/Facebook)

It’s tricky for a one-off food event to generate tons of buzz, particularly if it doesn’t involve poutine or grilled cheese sandwiches. A gimmick always helps, which may have been part of the rationale behind this upcoming event at The Cheese Boutique. On August 14, half the city’s culinary talent will be congregating at the shop to cook dishes inspired by various comic-book superheroes and villains. Cheese Boutique owner Afrim Pristine, who is coordinating the event, told Zagat Toronto that he selected a fictional alter ego for each chef, based on his or her temperament or role in Toronto’s culinary metropolis. (Bar Isabel’s Grant van Gameren, for instance, “is so Captain America, our fearless leader,” while The Harbord Room’s Cory Vitiello “is so the Joker, always smiling, etc.”) It’s not really clear what all this means for the menu, which is apparently still in development, but it does sound pretty fun, albeit extremely bro-y. (The one woman involved, baker Nadege Nourian of Nadège Patisserie, will be playing the role of Catwoman.)

Aug. 14. $175. The Cheese Boutique, 45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292, facebook.com

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Coffee and Tea

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White Squirrel coffee is coming to Rosedale

The popular Queen West café is branching out into slightly yuppier territory with a new outpost at Yonge and Roxborough. Signage is reportedly up outside Earth Rosedale’s old space at 1055 Yonge Street, directly across from one of the neighbourhood’s existing coffee institutions, Caffe Doria.

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Drinks

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Pretty in Pink: six quality rosés to bring to the barbecue

Rosés are the thing to drink this summer—they’re dry, refreshing and a great match for the ’cue

Pretty in Pink: Rosés are the thing to drink this summer—they’re dry, refreshing and a great match for the ’cue

Now that rosé is fashionable, it’s time to raise a red flag. Pink wines require no aging, so they’re a cash cow for less reputable winemakers, who routinely use tricks (like blending red and white wines, using grapes that don’t make the cut for red wines, or adding sugar) to increase profit margins. The best, however, use quality red grapes to create dry, soft and elegant wines that are often paler in colour, with complex red fruit, faded rose, and spicy and earthy nuances that linger. Here are some classics.

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Colette, the massive French restaurant in the Thompson Hotel, is opening this week

The new restaurant—formally named Colette Grand Café and Bakery—is owned by The Chase Hospitality Group, the same corporate entity behind The Chase, The Chase Fish and Oyster and soon-to-open Little Fin. Colette will encompass a posh, 150-seat bistro and a more casual grab-and-go café, both overseen by executive chef Michael Steh. The restaurant makes its debut on Thursday, July 31.

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Restaurants

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Pop-Up Pick: Dyne is making a comeback at Bar Negroni

Bar-Negroni

(Images: Bar Negroni/Facebook)

When Avenue Road restaurant Dyne closed earlier this year, owner and chef Richard Andino hinted that his Iberian-Asian fusion concept could someday be reincarnated in a new location. Happily, that day has now arrived. Earlier this month, Andino took over the kitchens at Little Italy hangouts Sidecar, Toronto Temperance Society and Bar Negroni, all of which are owned and operated by his longtime friend Bill Sweete. Andino has revamped the menus at all three spots, but it’s at Bar Negroni, Sweete’s most recent venture, that he’s been given free reign to bring Dyne back to life, at least temporarily. “I wanted to try serving Dyne food in a different location,” Andino said. “We’re serving the lobster salad from Dyne, and also the cod fritters.” Other items on the pop-up menu include tuna crudo with pickled onions, a seared rib eye steak with potato hash, and a handful of $2 and $3 pintxos (small snacks), like chorizo-stuffed calamari and strawberry-anchovy crostini. The pop-up begins this Wednesday, July 30, and there’s no end date in sight—if things go well, the Dyne-inspired menu could become a permanent fixture.

Starting July 30. Bar Negroni, 492 College St., facebook.com

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Quoted

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Some advice from the guy in Parkdale who’s sharing his diet with the neighbourhood

“Anybody who wants to accomplish anything in life…tell everybody about it. Tell your grandma, tell your dog, or post a sign out in your front lawn.”

Jason Holborn, the Parkdale guy who has been tracking his “days without sugar” on a sign stuck to his living room window, speaking to the Globe about his unusually public dieting strategy. (The signage is visible to anyone traveling east on the King streetcar, around Dufferin). Holborn has gone almost 600 days without consuming the white stuff.

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Best of Toronto

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Best of the City 2014: Food

Best of the City 2014: Food
Modern raw bar

Yasu
81 Harbord St., 416-477-2361
In a narrow white room, chef-owner Yasu Ouchi delivers glistening sushi, one piece at a time, to 10 guests seated at a marble-topped bar. Yasu is the city’s first sushi-only omakase restaurant, and as at other tasting menu–driven spots, you give yourself over to the chef’s whims. Ouchi and his one sous bring Jiro-like fanaticism to the 20-course experience, offering fresh cuts of fish and shellfish draped over perfectly ­seasoned rice. One night he served up a plump scallop lightly torched for sweetness and dressed with yuzu ­vinaigrette, then ­mackerel with ­pickled radish and scallion, then salty, foie gras–like monkfish liver with a julienne of shiso leaf. And on and on and on. Seatings at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., reservations a must. $80 per person.


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Restaurants

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Caplansky’s has big (but secret) expansion plans

Earlier this week, Zane Caplansky hinted on his blog that big changes were coming for his deli business, which already comprises a College Street restaurant, a food truck and a pair of soon-to-open sandwich counters at Pearson International Airport. “Next year will see us continue to grow in ways that will likely surprise many,” he wrote. “More shock and awe I expect but time will tell.” Some parts of the deli-domination plan are already in the works: Caplansky recently hired Mark Cutrara, the former co-owner and chef at defunct Parkdale restaurant Cowbell, to take over the deli’s kitchen. According to Caplansky, Cutrara will play an “important role” in a Caplansky’s spin-off, opening later this year.

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Openings

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Introducing: Rush Lane, a modernist snack bar and booze laboratory on Queen West

Name: Rush Lane
Contact Info: 563 Queen St. W., 416-551-7540, rushlaneto.com , facebook.com, @rushlaneco
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Previously: Hot Wings Grill and Rib House
Owners: Jordan Bushell, Alexis Arrowsmith, Simon Hooper, Doug Twigger and Brett Klyszejko
Chef: Chris Scott, the former chef de cuisine at Bero in Leslieville

The Drinks: Rush Lane is owned and operated by a pack of experienced bartenders, so it’s no surprise that the drinks list is pretty interesting. It consists of ten complex cocktails made with far-flung ingredients like “beet grenadine,” “hopped grapefruit bitters” and a type of seasoned vodka that’s been banned in the US since 1978. In the back of the room, a glass-walled laboratory is crammed with tech gadgets, including a rotary evaporator (for flavour-extraction), a centrifuge (for separating substances), a tissue tearer (a next-level hand blender) and a Clinebell ice machine, which can freeze a 300-pound block of clear ice in a day.

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Recipes

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Recipe: how to make the avocado-cilantro slaw from Ossington snack bar Oddseoul

Toronto Life Cookbook 2013: Avocado Slaw
Toronto Life Recipes | Appetizers
AVOCADO SLAW
By Leemo and Leeto Han
Oddseoul
AVOCADO SLAW
By Leemo and Leeto Han
Oddseoul

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Quoted

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Momofuku’s David Chang: “It should be considered a world-class city, which it is, but, like, not.”

“It should be considered a world-class city, which it is—but, like, not. You know. You guys know that. If that was the case, people in Toronto would not be wanting to go to New York. New Yorkers would be wanting to go to Toronto.”

David Chang, the creator of Momofuku, speaking to Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway about Toronto’s “underdog” status among great North American food cities. Luckily, Chang likes underdogs, which is why he brought Momofuku here in the first place. “I think Momofuku’s scrappy…and that’s how I view Toronto. I don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment at all.”

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