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Food Events

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Pop-Up Pick: Tori’s Bakeshop in the Beach hosts a surprisingly decadent vegan dinner party

(Images: Tori's Bakeshop/Facebook)

Some of the sweet and savoury creations available at Tori’s Bakeshop. (Images: Tori’s Bakeshop/Facebook)

Tori’s Bakeshop, the pretty little bakery in the Beach, makes great peanut-butter brownies, lemon tarts and grilled-vegetable sandwiches—all of which happen to be devoid of dairy, eggs and, for the most part, gluten as well. Last summer, owner Victoria Vaccher’s plans to open a wine bar in the same space met with opposition from a disgruntled neighbour, making it tricky to secure a liquor license. Things appear to have worked out, though, because next week the bakeshop will be celebrating its soon-to-commence evening activities with a pop-up vegan dinner party. Even skeptical carnivores may be impressed by the five-course menu, which doesn’t list a single sprouted veggie loaf or murky bean stew. Instead, diners can expect things like plum-cassis gazpacho with tarragon creme fraiche, roasted cipolini onion pie and blackened corn grits with pepita mole sauce, all prepped by chef Daniel Holloway of local caterer Urban Acorn. The meal costs $100 per person, with wine pairings, and there are just a few tickets left.

July 15. $100. 2188 Queen St. E., uniiverse.com

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Tilde, the taqueria it took a neighbourhood to build (in exchange for tacos)

Name: Tilde
Contact Info: Tilde, 699 Danforth Ave., 416-469-8226, tildetaco.ca, @tildetaco
Previously: Bistro 699
Owner/Chef: Gauravi Shah, who co-owns Tilde with her husband

The Food: After working as a nuclear engineer for five years, Shah dropped everything to enrol in culinary school at George Brown. Her debut restaurant is technically a taqueria, but the menu is hardly traditional—tortillas come topped with gochujang-spiced chicken and curried Bengali fish in addition to more familiar options, like pork with mole sauce. Appetizers include chicken wings, nopal (cactus fritters) and, of course, chips and guac.

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Recipes

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Recipe: Bar Isabel chef Grant van Gameren’s grilled steak with shishito peppers

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe: Steak with Shishito Peppers
Toronto Life Recipes | Entrees
STEAK WITH SHISHITO PEPPERS
By Grant van Gameren
Bar Isabel
STEAK WITH SHISHITO PEPPERS
By Grant van Gameren
Bar Isabel

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The Dish

Drinks

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Top Five: Toronto’s best rum cocktails

Five innovative takes on the classic pirate’s grog

Top Five: Toronto's best rum cocktails
1. Dr. Painkiller (pictured above)

At the County General, bartender Jeff Carroll creates a tart, fruity punch with cucumber-infused white rum, house-made grenadine, cranberry bitters and lime juice. He tops it off with a splash of ginger beer. $12. 936 Queen St. W., 416-531-4447.

2. Fresco

Our favourite cocktail at Rhum Corner, the new Haitian café from Black Hoof owner Jen Agg, is a spicymix of Havana rum, pomegranate syrup and falernum—a traditional Caribbean clove-lime-ginger syrup—poured over crushed ice in a chilled copper mini-mug. $10. 926 Dundas St. W., 647-346-9356.

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Restaurants

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Summerlicious: dignified dining program or “cash-grabby food factory”?

(Image: Winter/Summerlicious/Facebook)

(Image: Winter/Summerlicious/Facebook)

The idea of dining out on the cheap is nice, but what is Summerlicious like from the restaurant’s perspective? Sure, bargain meals help bring in business, but there are not-so-great tradeoffs, like stress, boredom and uncertain financial rewards (it costs over $1,150 just to participate). So, is it worth it? We got in touch with some chefs and restaurateurs to find out.

The Loyalist

image“The Fifth has enjoyed a long relationship with Summerlicious. It has been very beneficial to us, because it exposes the restaurant to a new group of dinner guests. With the backing of the city and the media exposure, we get a chance to reach out to guests who may under normal circumstances not join us.”

—Brad Livergant, chef at The Fifth


The Pragmatists

(Image: Nota Bene)“At Nota Bene, we never felt that we had to create such a program. But then we had a conversation about Summerlicious and thought that maybe we were missing out on opportunities. It’s more about promotion for us, and in that regard I think it has worked very well. We’ve introduced a lot of people to the restaurant. The profit margins aren’t as great as they could be, but we consider it an opportunity for people to discover Nota Bene.”

—Yannick Bigourgan, co-owner at Nota Bene

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Restaurants

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Crema Coffee on the Danforth is now doing brunch

(Image: Valerie Howes)

(Image: Valerie Howes)

Toronto coffee entrepreneur Geoff Polci and former Rock Lobster chef Joshua Charbonneau met through their mutual association with Toronto’s Backyard Axe Throwing League, but they’ve recently transitioned from recreational tool-lobbing buddies to full-on business associates. The result of their partnership is a new brunch destination on the Danforth, housed in the east-end outpost of Polci’s Crema Coffee chain. Earlier this summer, Charbonneau built a small kitchen in a nook at the back of the shop, both for in-house brunches and outside catering gigs. He’s since been supplying underserved Greektowners with heaping platters of classic brunch food, including buttermilk waffles, oozy eggs Benedict and steak-and-bacon pies from Aussie pie shop Kanga. Prices range from two bucks for the cheapest of sides to $13 for the most elaborate mains.

Crema Coffee Co., 508 Danforth Ave., 416-901-3131, @cremaTO

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Drinks

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33,000 free slushies will be up for grabs on Friday

(Image: 7-Eleven Canada/Facebook)

(Image: 7-Eleven Canada/Facebook)

Tomorrow, July 11, is 7-Eleven’s quasi-champagne birthday—i.e. the eleventh day of the seventh month of the year—and, once again, 7-Eleven shops across Canada will be celebrating the auspicious date by giving away small portions of fluorescent slush. Between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Toronto-area shops will be gifting small Slurpees to the first 33,000 comers (that adds up to 11,715 litres of Slurpee, or approximately 52 bathtubs’ worth). There’s also a contest component to this year’s giveaway, with a big prize for whoever takes the best selfie of their “Slurpee run” and posts it on the 7-Eleven Canada Facebook page. And don’t worry, the prize isn’t something boring like money or a dumb trip—instead, it’s even more free Slurpees (711, to be precise). For anyone hoping to make multiple runs, here are all of Toronto’s 7-Elevens on a map.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Patois, a new destination on Dundas West for Asian-Caribbean street food

Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Contact Info: 794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999, patoistoronto.com
Owner/chef: Craig Wong, who trained in Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred restaurant Fat Duck and spent a decade cooking for Toronto’s elite at Luma and Senses before deciding he was bored with fussy food

The Food: Wong draws upon his Jamaican-Chinese heritage for inspiration, but his menu doesn’t stick exclusively to Caribbean and Cantonese flavours. There’s also roasted Portuguese chicken with jerk spices, pierogi potstickers doused with kimchi sour cream and “dirty fried rice,” which adds a Cajun kick to the Chinese takeout staple. On the lighter side, a classic Waldorf salad gets a Pacific makeover with wakame (i.e. seaweed) and sesame.

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Deathwatch

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Strada 241 says so long to Chinatown

(Image: Signe Langford)

(Image: Signe Langford)

There’s been much talk lately—some optimistic, some less so—about the influx of trendy, not-particularly-Chinese restaurants opening shop along the Chinatown strip. One of the very first was Strada 241, the weirdly enormous Italian restaurant at 241 Spadina Avenue from brothers (and former TV stars) Michael and Guy Rubino. Despite generally positive reviews, it appears neighbourhood demand for rustic Italian food ultimately wasn’t strong enough to sustain the business past the two-year mark. Yesterday, the Rubinos confirmed over social media that the restaurant has closed. A message on the restaurant’s Facebook page thanks staff members for their enthusiasm and signs off with, “It’s been a slice.” It will be interesting to see what happens next in the 3,800-square-foot space, which always seemed a bit too imposing to house a cozy trattoria. Stay tuned for updates.

The Dish

Food Events

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Win a VIP getaway to the Taste of Toronto food festival

Renee-Suen---Toronto-Life----Taste-of-TO---YOURSTRULY-(3)

The lineup of dishes from Ossington restaurant Yours Truly, one of the 16 restaurants coming to Taste of Toronto (Image: Renée Suen)

In just two weeks, Toronto’s top culinary talents will head to Fort York for Taste of Toronto, the local offshoot of the international Taste Festivals empire. (Toronto Life is a local media partner.) The fair runs from July 24 to 27, and the lineup of food, which we previewed, looks enticing. Before the festivities get underway, though, the organizers have a bunch of stuff to give away. There are 13 prizes to be won, including general-entry tickets, VIP passes and—for one extremely lucky Dish reader—a fancy grand-prize package, which includes an overnight stay at the luxurious Shangri-La hotel, a gourmet breakfast for two at fine-dining restaurant Bosk and a pair of VIP passes to one of six Taste of Toronto sessions, where the winner (and a friend) will be able to sip sparkling beverages behind velvet ropes (well, we’re not 100-per-cent sure about the ropes) instead of milling about with the plebes. Entering is easy: just fill out the form below anytime between now (that is, Wednesday, July 9) and next Tuesday, July 15 at 5 p.m. For those who aren’t lucky enough to win a freebie, tickets can be purchased here.

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The Dish

Neighbourhoods

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

(Image: Peter Andrew)

Four years ago, Dundas west of Gladstone to Brock was still described as “up and coming.” Now, it’s a full-fledged hipster village. Flannel-clad couples eat artisanal fare under bare Edison bulbs, shoppers flock to vintage boutiques to buy pieces they earmarked on ­Instagram, and dark bars cater to the writers, designers and musicians who’ve moved into nearby houses and studio spaces. Residents have dubbed the area DuWest. Here, a tour of the new businesses in Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhood.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #22. Because Boutique Wine is at Farmers’ Markets

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #22. Because Boutique Wine is Coming to Farmers' Markets

(Illustration: Dani Crosby)

For all the noise around transit expansion and cancelled gas plants in the past year, Queen’s Park did us one solid: they brought wine to our farmers’ markets. This summer, on your weekly run for heritage-breed pork tenderloin and plump raspberries still wet with dew, you can pick up a bottle of Prince Edward County pinot noir or ­Norfolk County chardonnay from a VQA-designated stall. The newly relaxed liquor laws are part of a $75-million provincial plan to support Ontario grape growers (it also includes subsidizing equipment, launching marketing campaigns and introducing LCBO  boutiques into two Toronto grocery stores by year’s end). ­Connecting small-scale producers with locavore consumers is a clear win, but more importantly, shopping at our booze-friendly markets now feels a little more like a traipse through Les Halles. Why shouldn’t we be able to buy a silky red to go with that wedge of stinky blue? And if Kathleen Wynne took the next step—introducing legislation that allows us to uncork that bottle in a neighbouring park—we’d be well on our way to picnicking like adults.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #11. Because Our Cheesemakers Are World Champs

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #11. Because Our Cheesemakers Are World Champs

(Image: Vicky Lam)

Last September, when Margaret Peters of Lancaster, Ontario, was called to the stage to collect the top prize at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England, the room went quiet. Peters, figuring her chances of winning were minuscule, had decided not to attend the event. A decade ago, it would have been impossible to fathom her buttery, gouda-style Lankaaster cheese sweeping the competition against Euro stalwarts like Shropshire blue and parmigiano-reggiano. Ontario has been making nice cheese for some time, says Afrim Pristine, co-owner of the excellent Cheese Boutique off the South Kingsway, but it’s only in recent years that he’s seen such consistently transcendent quality from our local producers. They in turn have had the stones to stand up and say, what we do here is worth paying attention to. It helps that the public’s obsession with local, artisanal, handmade, pre-industrial, prettily packaged anything dovetails with the boutique cheese industry. The ruddy-cheeked farmers and cheesemakers creating small-batch, stinky works of art in the pastoral Ontario countryside nail that romantic checklist. Plus, our palates have matured far beyond marble cheddar and Babybel. We take pride in curating platters of hyper-local product: bloomy, camembert-style sheep’s milk rounds from Best Baa; grassy, sweet clothbound goat cheddar from Lindsay’s Mariposa Dairy; buttery, versatile Niagara Gold from Upper Canada Cheese Company; delicate, fresh ricotta from Quality Cheese; creamy water buffalo mozza from Bella Casara; and tangy, pungent Celtic Blue and that lush Lankaaster from Margaret Peters’ Glengarry Fine Cheese. We’re spoiled for choice—and Peters is currently expanding her aging cave to hold another 6,500 kilograms of cheese to keep us flush.

The Dish

Random Stuff

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #28. Because a Mobile Veg Stand Delivers Fresh Yuca to the Inner Suburbs

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #28. Because a Mobile Veg Stand Delivers Fresh Yuca to the Inner Suburbs

(Image: Laura Berman/Greenfuse Photography)

This spring, a former Wheel-Trans bus retrofitted with produce shelves began appearing in the parking lots of Lawrence Heights, Woburn Park and three other neighbourhoods dominated by isolated apartment towers. The bus, part of a joint project of the United Way, the city and the non-profit agency FoodShare, serves as a mobile market of bargain-priced high-quality produce, much of it grown in Ontario. To the organizers, it’s a ploy to promote healthy eating to a population without many nearby grocery stores. To the customers—­primarily recent immigrants on low or fixed incomes—it’s an incredibly convenient source for their favourite foods—cassava, plantains, eddoe and yuca (ingredients often used in Caribbean and Filipino cooking). Sometimes, the tastes of home are also the best for you.

The Dish

Food Shops

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This new food shop on Queen West is a haven for allergy sufferers

Feast

Click to view gallery (Image: Renée Suen)

Sensitive-stomach owners, take note: there’s a new store on Queen West that specializes in stuff that’s unlikely to send you to the ER (or ruin your new diet). The foods for sale at FEAST—which stands, a bit awkwardly, for Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types—are free from most common food allergens, including gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. The store isn’t just catering to a fad; it’s the brainchild of chef Neil Lomas and his wife, Wendy Zeh, both of whom have spent years struggling to accommodate their respective food allergies and intolerances. The shop’s inventory is the result of their decade-long search for allergy-friendly pantry items, including sauces, pastas and seasonings, each of which has been thoroughly tested for flavour, texture and aroma. Among the prepared foods, shoppers will find jerk-chicken pocket pies, gluten-free cake doughnuts, raw vegan truffles and frozen avocado pops by in-house chocolatier Stacey Burgess, creator of vegan chocolate brand Live On Chocolate.

FEAST, 881 Queen St. W., 647-350-1881, thisisafeast.com, @thisisafeast

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