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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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Restaurants

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Top Five: Toronto’s best doughnuts

Now dominating our collective sweet tooth: crazy, creative versions of the classic treat

Top Five: Toronto's best doughnuts
1. Blueberry Balsamic

Paulette’s, the online doughnut service started by Devin and Luke Connell and Graham Bower, serves dense cake-style doughnuts. This amazing sweet-tart version is made with wild blueberry glaze, lemon juice and zest, and aged balsamic vinegar. Paulettesoriginal.com.

2. Double Chocolate S’Mores

Ashley Jacot De Boinod of Parkdale’s Glory Hole makes her yeast doughnuts from scratch in outrageous flavour combinations, including pumpkin almond cheesecake and, our favourite, the Double Chocolate S’Mores, a chocolatey concoction topped with torched marshmallow. 1596 Queen St. W., 647-352-4848.

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Recipes

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Recipe: how to make the tangy rhubarb-raisin relish from Kensington’s Thomas Lavers Cannery

Toronto Life Cookbook 2013: Rhubarb-Raisin Relish
Toronto Life Recipes | Appetizers
RHUBARB-RAISIN RELISH
By Tye Thomas and Bryan Lavers
Thomas Lavers Cannery
RHUBARB-RAISIN RELISH
By Tye Thomas and Bryan Lavers
Thomas Lavers Cannery

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Food News

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Here it is: Canada’s official cheese champ

(Image: Fromagerie FX Pichet/Facebook)

(Image: Fromagerie FX Pichet/Facebook)

According to a band of 10 qualified fromagophiles, the country’s best coagulated milk product is a nutty, semi-soft organic cheese called Le Baluchon, produced by Quebec’s Fromagerie FX Pichet. Earlier this week, 51 hopefuls went head-to-head at the Canadian Cheese Awards, the country’s biggest and most inclusive cheese competition, which drew 291 entries from all over the country. Overall, Quebec finalists came out on top, coming away with 14 out of 31 awards. The single GTA winner was Vaughan cheese maker Quality Cheese, which took home the “Best Fresh Cheese” and “Best Cow’s Milk Cheese” awards for its Bella Casara mascarpone. (Ontario cheesemonger Margaret Peters, whose gouda-style Lankaaster was crowned worldwide cheese champ at last fall’s Global Cheese Awards in England, doesn’t appear to have been a contender.) According to the Star, cheese lovers will be able to purchase La Baluchon (and some other sub-winners) at select Loblaws stores.

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Restaurants

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Meet the Crackie, a cross between a chocolate-chip cookie and a sack of pork rinds

(Image: Porchetta & Co./Instagram)

(Image: Porchetta & Co./Instagram)

Just when Toronto’s preoccupation with gimmicky hybrid foods seemed to be waning a little, this happens. Porchetta and Co., the pork-obsessed sandwich hut on Dundas West, has debuted a meaty confection called the Crackie: a chocolate-chip cookie infused with flakes of rendered pig skin (i.e. crackling). So far, the cookie has caused a bit of a stir on Twitter, proving that Torontonians, like New Yorkers, aren’t the type to let minor food-safety debacles (mass-poisonings, say, or rodent infestations) interfere with their love for slash-y snacks. Those who’d like to get a sense of the Crackie’s interests and temperament before committing to a three-buck purchase can follow the cookie’s personal Twitter account, which exists.

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Restaurants

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Farmhouse Tavern is the latest Toronto restaurant to open a spin-off

(Image: Farmhouse Tavern/Facebook)

(Image: Farmhouse Tavern/Facebook)

Why have one great restaurant when you can have two? That seems to be the logic behind Toronto’s new run of culinary spin-offs. In just the last few months, Buca begot Bar Buca, The County General launched County Cocktail, and now Farmhouse Tavern, the Junction Triangle spot known for serving côte de boeuf on giant wooden slabs, is opening Farmer’s Daughter, a new eatery located just down the street at 1588 Dupont Street. Similar names aside, the new spot won’t have much in common with its progenitor. “There aren’t going to be any antiques, no chalk board, no knickknacks,” says owner Darcy MacDonell. The sleeker, more feminine decor will complement a very on-trend menu of light, seafood-focused dishes crafted by ex-Daishō and Libertine chef Leonie Lilla. The new spot opens in May—just in time to make good use of its roomy, 40-seat patio.

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Food TV

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Masterchef Canada Recap, episode 12: “Holy Toledo, this is going to be insane”

Masterchef Canada Episode 12

In this week’s commercial for Origin North episode, the final six contestants took on the ultimate test of chefhood: working in an actual restaurant kitchen. Here are three takeaways from episode twelve.

Lesson #1: Pride comes before an elimination
Neither team nailed the restaurant takeover, which started strong but then sort of devolved into a lot of uncoordinated sweating and cursing. But it was poor Pino who sealed his fate (and bolstered our elimination-prediction theory) by letting five little words fall out of his mouth: “This is the winning team.”

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