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The Dish Power Rankings: Easter Long Weekend Edition

The-Dish-Power-Rankings

In this week’s roundup: Everyone loves hummus, and David Chang goes to Hooters.

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Introducing: Fat Pasha, Anthony Rose’s new Middle Eastern hangout

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Fat Pasha
Contact Info: 414 Dupont St., 647-340-6142, fatpasha.com, @fatpasha
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Owners: Anthony Rose, owner and chef of Rose and Sons and Big Crow
Chef: Kevin Gilmour, formerly of The Drake Hotel

The Food: Big, bold dishes infused with traditional Ashkenazi and Sephardic flavours. Case in point: a towering latke platter topped with salmon pastrami and a whole smoked pickerel head, or a broiled cauliflower stuffed with tahini, pine nuts and halloumi. If hummus is your thing, they have that, too: the creamy chickpea spread comes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or topped with heaps of lamb shoulder or Swiss chard. For dessert, deep-fried sufganiyot (i.e. doughnuts) are piped with orange-blossom custard and finished with a splash of arak, an intensely anise-flavoured Arabic spirit.

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Restaurants

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The Critic: Rob Gentile’s new Bar Buca seduces with tripe, tendon and twists of pig skin

The Critic: There Will Be Blood

At Bar Buca, you can pick up a latte and pastry for the morning commute, return at lunch for offal sausage with poached eggs, and cap off the night with lightly battered snacks and a glass of chianti

Bar Buca 2 star
75 Portland St., 416-599-2822
Buca 3 star ½
604 King St. W., 416-865-1600

I’ve developed a taste for blood first thing in the morning. Rob Gentile, the chef at Bar Buca, mixes fresh pig’s blood into the batter for his crêpes. He then slathers them with a ganache-like concoction of dark chocolate, cream and Concerto (a spiced liquor) before rolling them up. The dish is a variation on a traditional Tuscan pancake called migliaccio, and the blood’s metallic tang turbo-boosts the sweetness of the chocolate. It’s ridiculously indulgent. Between bites I sipped a latte made with water buffalo milk, which Gentile orders from a farm in Stirling. I’ve never found a better coffee in this city.

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Coffee and Tea

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A new board-game café, hookah lounge and “bohemian tea house” is now open in Harbord Village

(Image: Bampot/Instagram)

(Image: Bampot/Instagram)

In Toronto, board-game cafés—once so daringly niche—have become superabundant. Bampot, the city’s newest social-gaming centre, has more ambiance than the standard venue. Its beaded curtains, Moroccan tiles and rattan wall coverings seem designed to court a slightly earthier, freer-spirited variety of gamer—the kind who likes to sip chai and smoke a hookah while plowing through an epic game of Settlers. Modeled after a traditional Czech tea house, Bampot officially opened last Monday, and the early reviews are positive. There’s a $5 cover for access to the café’s library of over 150 games, or $3 with a meal (recent specials included apple-lentil curry and carrot soup with curried croutons).

Bampot, 201 Harbord St., 416-537-5959, bampottea.com

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Food Events

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Foodie Fortnight: the top five food events for April 16–23

(Image: Lou Dawg’s)

(Image: Lou Dawg’s)

In this edition of Foodie Fortnight: vegan Passover, free poutine and a Good Friday beer fest

Vegan Passover Dinner
For anyone in need of very last-minute Passover dinner plans: popular veg chef Emily Zimmerman is putting a kosher spin on her weekly drop-in dinner at Depanneur on College. For $16, droppers-by can grab vegan salads, grains and a slice of lemon-passionfruit-matzoh torte. Pay what you can after 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 16. Depanneur, 1033 College St., 416-828-1990, thedepanneur.ca

Rib-Eating Contest (+ Free Poutine)
Come to eat, or just to gawk: Deadmau5 and Rob Ford are expected to attend tomorrow’s fifth-anniversary bash at King West snack spot Lou Dawg’s. Free pulled-pork poutine from noon to midnight with purchase of a beer.
Apr. 17. Lou Dawg’s, 589 King St. W., 647-347-3294, facebook.com

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Random Stuff

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VIDEO: New factual ad depicts horrifying alternate universe where you can buy beer in convenience stores

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

Yesterday, Ontario Beer Facts—presumably an independently operated special interested group with no corporate tethering whatsoever—released a totally impartial video depicting what is for sure going to happen if Ontario were to relax liquor laws to accommodate the sale of beer, wine and spirits in local convenience stores. The video, which is based on facts, depicts a group of child-aged men purchasing some beer and liquor from a convenience store, the first step in their long, sluggish march toward alcoholism, and the eventual collapse of Ontario as we know it. You can watch it below . (Trigger warning for: corrupted youth, facts.)

The video is shocking, wake-up-call type stuff, which draws its characterizations and conclusions from the indisputable reality of what happens when alcohol is more accessible. Because its precision and sobering veracity can be hard to swallow upon an initial viewing, we thought it’d be helpful to break down the video, step-by-step, and explain exactly what’s going on.

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Recipes

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Recipe: how to make Buca chef Rob Gentile’s buffalo ricotta-stuffed cannelloni

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe 2013: Cannelloni
Toronto Life Recipes | Entrees
CANNELLONI
By Rob Gentile
Buca
CANNELLONI
By Rob Gentile
Buca

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Must-Try

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Must-Try: The Black Hoof’s sweet and silky pork carpaccio

(Image: Jon Sufrin)

(Image: Jon Sufrin)

Eating raw beef is commonplace in Toronto. But the thought of eating raw pork can be cringe inducing. Unlike beef, raw pork is remarkably sweet, which is probably why Europeans eat it with gusto. At The Black Hoof, chef Jesse Grasso flaunts convention by serving Berkshire pork as carpaccio. He takes supremely marbled pork shoulder and lightly sears it before slicing it tissue-thin. He tops it with foraged maple blossoms — both whole and puréed into a pesto — along with pine nuts for crunch and pickled onions for a spark of acidity. It’s right in line with The Black Hoof mentality: ordering it feels like a dare. The taste, though, could put any beef carpaccio to shame. And for those concerned, human cases of trichinosis — the fear of which leads just about everyone to overcook pork — have been nearly nonexistent in Ontario for the past few decades.

The Black Hoof, 928 Dundas St. W., 416-551-8854  

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Food News

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Coming soon to King West: Portland Variety, a new bakery, café, restaurant and tapas bar from Le Gourmand’s Milton Nunes

Le Gourmand's premium almond croissant. (Image: Le Gourmand)

Le Gourmand’s premium almond croissant. (Image: Le Gourmand)

A few years ago, Milton Nunes was facing troubled times as his bakery-café, Le Gourmand, slowly closed its numerous locations one by one. The Queen and Spadina flagship managed to survive the slump under new ownership, but Nunes is on the upswing with his soon-to-open Portland Variety, now under construction at 587 King Street West. Nunes has been inspired by New York venues such as Casa Mono and ABC Cocina, Spanish-themed places with long operating hours that change their function as the day progresses.

He envisions Portland Variety as a bakery and café in the morning; a lunch spot in the afternoon; then, later on, a dinner destination with cocktails and tapas. He’s equipping the 2,400-square-foot space with leather banquettes, marble countertops and, it should be noted, a $20,000 Modbar espresso system, one of the most advanced coffee setups available.

Fans of Le Gourmand may be happy to hear that Portland Variety will feature all of the same baked goods that Nunes is known for, including the cookies. As for his previous failures, Nunes isn’t letting them set him back. “I’m not going anywhere,” he says. “This is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.”

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Food News

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The #Srirachapocalypse may (or may not) be nigh

Sriracha-Shortage

Last week brought more bad news for Huy Fong Foods, the maker of Sriracha hot sauce. On April 9, the city of Irwindale, California voted to declare the Huy Fong factory a public nuisance, based on ongoing complaints from residents about scratchy throats and other airborne-chili-related ailments.

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Coffee and Tea

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Indie coffee maestro Sam James sets up shop on the Ossington strip

(Image: Jon Sufrin)

(Image: Jon Sufrin)

After setting up cafés in some unexpected places across Toronto—first Harbord Street, next Koreatown, and then The Path—Toronto coffee king Sam James has planted his flag on the Ossington strip, directly across the street from Starbucks. The new outlet is the epitome of a Sam James coffee shop: the ceilings are towering, the décor is stark (a pixelated floor-to-ceiling print reveals itself as a snarling German Shepherd when viewed from afar), and the tables are nonexistent, leaving customers to perch on a tiered concrete stoop. Baristas work off a gleaming Italian espresso machine (a three-group La Marzocco GB5, for those familiar with their brewing gear), which churns out caffeinated beverages made from James’ own Cut Coffee. And how does he feel about having corporate coffee giants right at his doorstep? “There’s nothing they’re doing that we can’t do better,” he says.

Sam James Coffee Bar, 1000 Queen St. W. (entrance is on Ossington Ave.)

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Openings

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Introducing: La Créole brings refined island cuisine to a romantic room on St. Clair West

Introducing: La Creole

Name: La Créole
Contact Info: 810 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-651-8228, lacreole.ca
Neighbourhood: Humewood
Owners: Ben Cherette and Paterson Louis-Jean of Manje Kreyol Catering
Chef: Manje Kreyol chef Magda

The Food: Six months after Jen Agg opened Rhum Corner, her laid-back Haitian hangout on Dundas West, the city has a second refined island kitchen. La Créole serves a mix of French Caribbean, Créole and Haitian dishes in a fabric-swathed room on St. Clair West. Appetizer platters come heaped with cod fritters, fried plantains and chunks of marinated beef served with plenty of picklese, a pickled condiment made with shredded cabbage. Main dishes include stewed snapper with black-bean sauce and a roasted quail glazed with guava.

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Food Events

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Miss out on Toronto’s first dim-sum fest? Tickets for the sequel go on sale today

GwaiLo chef Nick Liu’s Big Mac bun and smoked meat-stuffed spring roll (Image: Timothy Franklin)

GwaiLo’s Big Mac bun and smoked-meat spring roll (Image: Timothy Franklin)

Dim sum was in the air this weekend. On Friday, Susur Lee marked the one-week anniversary of Luckee, his haute-trolley-service joint at the Soho Met hotel. Then, on Sunday, a few hundred food lovers—the ones who managed to snag tickets before they disappeared—gathered for Yum Cha, Toronto’s first dim-sum festival. As promised, the event delivered all kinds of two-bite snacks, most of which played fast and loose with strict Cantonese dim-sum definitions (beef-heart cold roles from the Canoe team, for instance, or Big Mac buns from GwaiLo’s Nick Liu). Food aside, the fest was remarkably civilized, with short lines and bearable crowds. For those who missed out, organizers Suresh Doss and Frank Kocis are already working on a follow-up dim-sum day. Yum Cha 2 will unite a new dream team of dim-sum experts in Toronto’s east end. The vendor list includes some high-profile names, like Momofuku Daisho, The County General and Chantecler (rumour has it that Susur himself might make an appearance). Browse our slideshow of photos from the first edition to get a sense of what’s in store for the sequel.

May 4. $10 (not incl. food and drinks). 36 Wagstaff Dr. (next door to Left Field Brewery), uniiverse.com

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Openings

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Introducing: The Workshop by Latitude, a new Roncesvalles restaurant for anyone who loves cheese

Introducing: The Workshop by Latitude

Name: The Workshop by Latitude
Contact Info: 331 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-785-2123, workshopbylatitude.ca, @workshop331
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles
Owners: Latitude Group
Chef: Former Fat Cat Wine Bar executive chef, Mathew Sutherland

The Food: The menu revolves entirely around cheese. Diners can build their own cheese boards from 25 different wedges—including a couple slabs produced exclusively for the Workshop—or choose from the list of snacks and comfort dishes, like a comte-stuffed croque monsieur and a lamb burger topped with goat-milk raita and halloumi. The “workman’s lunch” brings a selection of cheeses and cured meats, plus hard-boiled duck eggs, poached veggies, preserves, nuts and sliced baguette.

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Restaurants

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Chef’s Choice: Danielle Oron of Moo Milk Bar picks her favourite restaurants

Chef's Choice: Danielle Oron of Moo Milk Bar picks her favourite restaurants

Who better to guide a fantasy food tour than a chef? We asked some of the city’s top culinary talents to walk us through their ideal day in Toronto restaurant meals.

Danielle Oron
Moo Milk Bar

BREAKFAST
“My hangover secret is the apple and bacon grilled cheese at Rashers in Leslieville. Don’t judge me!” 948 Queen St. E., 416-710-8220.

LUNCH
“I could eat McEwan Foods’ short rib empanadas daily. They’re glorious dipped in chipotle ketchup.” Shops at Don Mills, 416-444-6262.

DINNER
“I love Koreatown on weeknights. The soon tofu soup with sizzling bi bim bap at Tofu Village is filling and easy on my wallet.” 681 Bloor St. W., 647-345-3836.

DRINKS
“At Oddseoul, I order the Liberace, a peach-infused dark and stormy.” 90 Ossington Ave., no phone.

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