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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

The Dish

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.

The Dish

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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Restaurants

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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.

The Dish

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.

The Dish

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.

The Dish

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.”

The Dish

Restaurants

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The new downtown Pizzeria Libretto is almost a reality

Zagat Toronto spoke to Libretto co-owners Max Rimaldi and Rocco Agostino, who confirmed that the new downtown location—housed in a PATH-accessible office tower at 155 University Avenue—will open sometime in September. The new spot will be similar to the Ossington and Danforth locations, with a few decorative concessions to the area’s expense-account-wielding clientele. “Instead of vinyl seating it’ll be leather seating,” Agostino said. “Instead of barn board it will be refined wood.” The menu, however, will stay the same.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Little Sister, a new Indonesian snack bar from the owners of Quince bistro

Introducing: Little Sister

Click to view gallery

Name: Little Sister
Contact Info: 2031 Yonge St., 416-488-2031, littlesistertoronto.com, @littlesisterto
Neighbourhood: Davisville Village
Previously: Lucca Fine Linens, a fancy home shop
Owners: Michael van de Winkel and Jennifer Gittins, who also own Quince Bistro
Chef: Michael van de Winkel

The Food: Chef van de Winkel grew up in Amsterdam and spent time working as a chef in the Dutch Navy. There, he learned to cook a colonial-era Indonesian meal called rijsttafel (Dutch for “rice table”). Years later, he continued the tradition in Toronto, where the colourful feasts were a huge draw at his midtown bistro, Quince. Now van de Winkel and co-owner Jennifer Gittens have moved the Dutch-Indo cuisine to a venue of its own. At Little Sister, the menu sticks mainly to the kind of snacks you can eat with your hands: croquettes, skewers and Indonesian-style rendang tacos.

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The Dish

Food Shops

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Jellyfish gelato is available now on Queen West

Sweet Olenka, the Etobicoke chocolate shop turned Queen West pop-up, has broken away from the pack in Toronto’s race to to find the weirdest ice-cream flavour possible. According to the Star, owner Olenka Bazowski recently debuted a seafood-flavoured cone. Bazowski makes a jelly out of pulverized jellyfish and maple syrup, mixes it with miso-flavoured ice cream and then flash-freezes the blend, turning the jellyfish component into “sweet and crisp” beads. She ranks this particular experiment as “level 3 weird.” Scary to think what a five would be.

The Dish

Step by Step

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How do you make a fancy dish from dirt?

How do you make a fancy meal out of dirt?

Click to view gallery (Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

Since it opened in 2012, Actinolite, a small restaurant on Ossington near Dupont, has evolved from a neighbourhood bistro into a high-concept tasting room. Chef and owner Justin Cournoyer makes biweekly foraging trips into the wilderness around Toronto, seeking out herbs, berries, lichen and, oddly enough, soil. Using an hours-long process developed by former sous chef Michael Lehmkuhl, Cournoyer distills the tastes and scents of the earth into butter, which he uses for the opening dish of his seven-course tasting menu. Here’s how he does it.

See how Actinolite cooks with dirt »

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