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Food News

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It was a trap!
(Image: Veg Food Fest/Twitter)

(Image: Veg Food Fest/Twitter)

 

That free-corn-dogs-at-Honest-Ed’s thing from yesterday? Apparently, it was all an elaborate ruse designed to get hungry Torontonians to eat some kind of fake veggie meat. That’s right: there wasn’t a shred of real pig in those dogs. In fact, the truth was written right on the sticks, which, once released from their fleshless sheaths, said this: “This little piggy wasn’t a piggy.” It’s a good thing, we suppose, that the force behind the giveaway wasn’t some scuzzy pervert in a trench coat, but instead a wholesome vegetarian enterprise. (The dogs were supplied by all-veg food truck Karma Chamealeon, as a promo for the upcoming Veg Food Fest at Harbourfront.) Ten points for anyone who pegged it as a PR stunt.

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Food Events

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Snack on the asphalt at TRES, La Carnita’s annual parking-lot party

BB_LaCarnita1

The scene at DOS in 2013 (Image: Laura Serra)

Back in 2012, pop-up taqueria La Carnita gave Toronto UNO, a one-night food, music and art party. DOS followed a year later. It should be no surprise, then, that the now-permanent taco shop’s latest offering is titled TRES. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?) This Saturday, the College Street restaurant will transform its neighbouring parking lot into a full-fledged concert venue for a daylong hip-hop festival, featuring the likes of Toronto DJ Grandtheft and Calgary duo Smalltown DJs. But the main attraction, of course, will be the food. Along with La Carnita’s Mexican staples, attendees will be treated to barbecue from Home of the Brave, Asian dishes from chef Nick Liu’s brand new DaiLo, and elaborate cones from Sweet Jesus, the host’s seriously indulgent soft-serve side project (just look at one of their early creations). The dance party runs until 10:30 p.m.—if you can still stand up, that is.

Saturday, August 23, 2-10. $20 (food and drink not incl.). La Carnita Parking Lot, 461 College St., 416-964-1555, lacarnita.com

The Dish

Culture

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What is brunch, anyway? (and other thoughts about the stuff-your-face weekend ritual)

The brunch scene at Rose and Sons (Image: Emma McIntyre)

The brunch scene at Rose and Sons on Dupont Street (Image: Emma McIntyre)

Toronto writer Shawn Micallef believes we should all be thinking a lot more about brunch. His new book, The Trouble With Brunch, was published last month by Coach House Books; it’s part-autobiography, part-history, and part-dissertation, all with the aim of examining the relationship between the weekend ritual and shifting attitudes toward class and leisure. Here’s an excerpt.


In 1895, the English writer Guy Beringer published an essay titled “Brunch: A Plea” in a now-obscure periodical called Hunter’s Weekly. Nearly a hundred and twenty years later, the vision for a new meal that he proposed is as real now as a traditional Sunday roast was in his time. Little can be gleaned about Beringer himself—all searches for further information circle back only to this essay. In a 1998 New York Times article, “At Brunch, the More Bizarre the Better,” author William Grimes attributed the invention of brunch to Beringer and quoted a few passages from the original essay: “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Just like we do today, Beringer saw the link between brunch and the hangover, writing that having the first meal later in the day on Sunday would make life easier on “Saturday-night carousers.” Beringer differentiated brunch from those English roasts, calling the latter “a post church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies” while brunch, served around noon, would instead begin with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures, before moving on to heavier fare. “More than a century later, Beringer’s template for brunch remains as valid as the day it was created, perhaps because, in drafting his culinary declaration of independence, he was not overly specific about what dishes should be served,” wrote Grimes. “He demanded ‘everything good, plenty of it, variety and selection.’ In a postscript, he suggested that beer and whisky could be served instead of coffee and tea, laying down a precedent for the mimosa, the Bloody Mary and the screwdriver.” Satisfaction, a little gluttony and a buzz—the familiar components of most brunches served today.

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Free Stuff

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Free corn dogs tomorrow, from a stranger

Corn Dog

(Image: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr)

Well, this is kind of weird. Someone apparently has hundreds of corn dogs they want to give away, and—assuming this whole thing isn’t an elaborate prank or social experiment—they’re planning on making a day of it. According to the information provided at corndogsurprise.tumblr.com, anyone who ventures down the Honest Ed’s alleyway between noon and 3 p.m. tomorrow will receive at least one batter-encased wiener, and hopefully nothing creepier than that. [Via BlogTO]

Friday, Aug. 22. FREE. Honest Ed’s Alley, 581 Bloor St. W., corndogsurprise.tumblr.com

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Closings

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Bero in Leslieville is maybe, probably closed
(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

We’ve been keeping a close eye on Bero, the high-concept kitchen on Queen East, which has been giving off a boarded-up, tumbleweed-y kind of vibe for the past several weeks. Last spring, the restaurant lost its original chef, modernist artiste Matt Kantor (known for his very finicky plating practices), and no successor was ever named. Now BlogTO is reporting that the restaurant is closed for good. We weren’t able to reach the restaurant for confirmation, and Bero’s voicemail message states the the closure is “temporary.” We’re not so sure, though: according to at least one source, the business is currently being shopped around (for $49,000, in case anyone’s interested).

The Dish

Restaurants

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Coming to Ossington: “historic foods of the natives”
(Image: Borealia/Facebook)

(Image: Borealia/Facebook)

Borealia, a new restaurant opening this fall at 59 Ossington Avenue (formerly home to Ardor Bistro), will differentiate itself from Toronto’s Gatsby-style speakeasies by shaving a few decades off the theme. The restaurant’s Facebook page currently has this to say about its historical influences: “Our menu draws inspiration from the historic foods of the natives, early settlers, and subsequent immigrant groups who arrived in the 18th & 19th centuries.” Diners can look forward to supping on bygone delicacies like pigeon pie (pictured left), braised whelk (i.e. sea snail) and chunks of lobster encased in wobbly aspic. Borealia is scheduled to open in October.

The Dish

Food News

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This is what a $77 milkshake looks like

(Image: Suresh Doss/Zagat Toronto)

(Image: Suresh Doss/Zagat Toronto)

There’s a special niche in the novelty-food market for stuff that’s designed to cost as much as possible, sometimes with little regard for either taste or reason (we’re looking at you, $900 cupcake). The latest is a $77 milkshake from Oshawa-based food truck Hollywood Cone. The “Best Picture” shake looks relatively normal at first glace (well, if you don’t count all the glittery stuff on top), but that’s just an illusion; in fact, the cup is crammed with all kinds of pricey imported chocolate and edible precious metals, thus justifying the double-digit price tag. Owner Joe Kelsey told us that a single shake takes about 30 to 40 minutes to prepare from start to finish, which explains why these puppies need to be pre-ordered at least 48 hours in advance. For anyone who’d like to attempt to craft their own extravagant dessert drink, Zagat Toronto has a step-by-step rundown on how it’s made.

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Sponsored Content

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Victory at Maple Leaf Gardens, and Beyond

loblaws-top-lasagna

 

Champions have returned to Church and Carlton, once again. In the kitchens of Loblaw’s Maple Leaf Garden’s banner store, executive chef Mark Russell has created restaurant–quality take-home dishes that are garnering international accolades. This spring, after the International Taste & Quality Institute judging panel of chefs, sommeliers and culinary experts awarded the company a Superior Taste Award.

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Step by Step

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How do you make a hi-tech cocktail?

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Click to view gallery (Image: Giordano Ciampini)

At Rush Lane, the Queen West snack bar and experimental cocktail laboratory, Jordan Bushell and Simon Hooper craft complex beverages using medical lab equipment. A clinical approach, they say, makes more consistent drinks: “the fewer variables we have, the better,” says Hooper. Last week, they came up with the Playa Riviera, a strong, smoky drink that tastes a bit like a vacation. “It was actually one of the cold days last week,” says Hooper. “I thought, where would I love to be right now? Mexico. One hundred per cent. So let’s create a cocktail that embodies the emotional aspect of that—a little heat, a little salt from the ocean, some tropical flavors.” The drink takes about an hour to prepare, using a whole series of hi-tech equipment, and it’s selling now for $20. Here’s how it’s done.

See how Rush Lane makes hi-tech cocktails »

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Restaurants

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Quinta closing, reopening as Essen
(Image: Essen/Instagram)

(Image: Essen/Instagram)

The Portuguese restaurant’s front window is currently plastered with sheets of brown paper, one of which has the word “Essen” scribbled on it in black capital letters. That’s the name of the new, family-style restaurant that Quinta’s owner and chef Leor Zimerman will be opening this September in the same space, at 1282 Dundas West. Zimerman announced the change-up on Facebook earlier this month. As for what to expect from the new restaurant, the Star reports that Essen will specialize in “Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine”—think whitefish, chopped liver and stuff fried in schmaltz.

The Dish

Stat

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LCBO employees are raking it in

$67,500
—The average amount paid by the LCBO in salaries and benefits to each of its 6,067 employees in 2012, according to a recent report by the C.D. Howe Institute, a Canadian public-policy think tank. The report’s authors claim, among other things, that the LCBO’s “quasi-monopoly” on provincial liquor sales creates a disincentive to curb costs. They conclude that the gradual liberalization of alcohol sales in Ontario would lead to lower prices for consumers and increased revenue for the government.

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People

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Ivan Reitman on Ghostbusters 3, California cooking, and exploding-marshmallow deserts

Nobody knows how to draw laughs like the legendary Hollywood producer-director Ivan Reitman. Ask him about his new restaurant, Montecito, and things turn serious

Ivan Reitman on Ghostbusters 3, California cooking, and exploding-marshmallow desertsYou’ve had a wildly successful career as the brains behind comedy classics Animal House, Ghostbusters and ­Meatballs. Why open a 280-seat ­mega-­restaurant in Toronto?
First of all, don’t call it at mega-­restaurant. It’s a series of intimate rooms that serve subtly different ­purposes and would total 280 seats if every damn one were full. Why I got into it? Two local restaurateurs, Tom and ­Jordan Bitove, approached me. Plus, I have a condo in Festival Tower and realized there isn’t a place nearby for a great, simple, sophisticated meal at a fair price.

Are you disparaging the Hooters up the street?
I’m suggesting there isn’t a great restaurant in the four-or five-block area.

Your family donated the $22-million plot of land for the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Montecito is around the corner. Have you received any flak from Yorkville restaurateurs for stealing the party?
Ha! No. But that shift was happening for about 15 years before the Lightbox came along, so don’t blame me.

No one knows more about comedy than you. With respect, what do you know about opening a restaurant?
Not much. But as a producer and ­director, I know how to get something relatively expensive done. I know how to entertain the public, too. Most importantly, I’ve brought in Jonathan ­Waxman, one of the fathers of ­California cuisine, to oversee the kitchen.

Tell us about Waxman’s baked Alaska. We’ve heard it’s an exploding marshmallow dessert based on the Stay Puft villain in Ghostbusters.
It’s true. I’m not a big fan of marsh­mallows, but this one is kind of cool.

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Closings

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Yours Truly on Ossington is closing
(Image: Yours Truly/Facebook)

(Image: Yours Truly/Facebook)

The restaurant will serve its final meals on September 30, according to an emailed statement from the owners. Known for serving some of the city’s most meticulous dishes, the three-year-old Ossington spot never seemed to get its business formula quite right, switching back and forth between regular à la carte service and an ambitious tasting-menu-only concept. (For its final month, Yours Truly will be ditching the à la carte menu for good.) The fall closure comes just under a year after the shuttering of spin-off restaurant A-OK Foods, which closed last October.

The Dish

Restaurants

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A new Parkdale brewpub is on its way
(Image: Duggan's Brewery/Twitter)

(Image: Duggan’s Brewery/Twitter)

Soon every Toronto neighbourhood will have a resto-retail-brewery complex to call its own. The next up is Duggan’s Brewery Parkdale, a reincarnation of the microbrewery that used to occupy the Beer Academy space at the corner of Richmond and Victoria streets. Canadian Beer News reports that the new west-end outpost will be a restaurant, retail store and “nanobrewery” in one, much like the upcoming Bellwoods Brewery facility on Dupont or the soon-to-open Louis Cifer Brew Works on the Danforth. The grand opening won’t happen until October, but the storefront at 1346 Queen West (previously home to Japanese restaurant Kanji) is already operating as a bar on select evenings (look for updates on Twitter).

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Mamakas, a homey Greek taverna on the Ossington strip

Introducing: Mamakas

Click to view gallery (Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Mamakas
Contact Info: 80 Ossington Ave., mamakas.ca, @mamakasTO
Previously: Fancy design shop Ministry of Interior
Neighbourhood: Ossington
Owner: Thanos Tripi
Chef: Former Trinity Taverna chefs Seb Yacoubidian and Pierre Restivo

The Food: Mamakas—a term of endearment for “mother”—serves traditional mezze and grilled meats inspired by coastal Greek and Turkish cuisine. Many of the dishes are ones that owner Thanos Tripi grew up with, including flaky spanakopita and whipped taramosalata topped with salmon roe. Among the heartier options, a whole seabass is brushed with latholemono (a classic Greek blend of lemon, olive oil and garlic) and grilled over a hot flame, while lamb-chop lollipops are flavoured with oregano and served with garlicky tzatziki. On the sweeter side, the bougasta brings a tower of crisp phyllo pastry layered with orange semolina custard and topped with a gooey honeyed fig.

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