Le Select Bistro

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Six ways to eat gooseneck barnacles, the weird sea creatures that are all over Toronto’s haute menus

(Image: Renée Suen)

At Marben, percebes are steamed in white wine and herbs. (Image: Rob Bragagnolo, Marben)

Gooseneck barnacles, also called percebes, are crustaceans that cling to rocks in places that have a strong crashing surf. In Spain and Portugal, they’re considered a rare and wonderful delicacy, thanks to their sweet flesh, which tastes a bit like a cross between lobster and clam. They’re also impossibly ugly (they resemble some type of prehistoric clawed beast) and extremely expensive, largely because gathering them is such risky and controversial work. In Europe, a single kilo of percebes can fetch almost $500. Their Canadian counterparts, which are hand-picked off the coast of Vancouver Island by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, cost over $20 per pound—if you can get your hands on them at all, which regular consumers generally can’t. Luckily, some of Toronto’s best restaurants are doing wonderful things with these odd-looking shellfish. You’ll want to hurry, though: percebes are only in season until the end of May, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

1. Bar Isabel
At his Spanish restaurant in Little Italy, chef Grant van Gameren serves percebes over thinly sliced raw artichokes with lots of butter and garlic. $20.
797 College St., 416-532-2222

2. Canoe
On Canoe’s spring menu, percebes are paired with pasta, shellfish mousse and sea asparagus in a coastal-inspired take on cannelloni. $26
66 Wellington St. W., 416-364-0054

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The Dish

Where to Eat and Drink

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Where to eat and drink near the 2012 Grey Cup

(Image: George Socka)

With 52,000 rabid Argos and Stamps fans crowding the streets around the Rogers Centre on Sunday, you need a game plan for pre- and post-game eating and drinking. Sure, you can pack into Loose Moose or Lone Star Texas Grillbut there are other, better dining options within a 20-minute walk of the dome. Here, your 15 best bets.

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The Dish

Food Events

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At this year’s Green Living Show, Toronto chefs teamed up with local suppliers

Louianna olive oil, polenta and mushroom croquettes from Fabio Bondi and Ravine Vineyard’s Sand and Gravel Redcoat

Toronto’s sixth annual Green Living Show kicked off last Friday at the Ex and continued through the weekend. Ecoholic Torontonians gathered en masse for the three-day event that showcased everything from locally produced coffins, for those adamant on remaining green until the bitter end, to a Miyazaki-esque solar-powered airship. The Dish hit up this year’s GLS to check out  the event’s first ever Farmers Market and to snack on the Farm Fresh Fare dishes. The weekend featured a rotating cast of Toronto chefs, including The Gabardine’s Graham Pratt and Local Kitchen’s Fabio Bondi, who had partnered up with local producers like Kolapore Springs and 100km Foods to prepare tapas-sized plates ($2-$4).

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Toronto’s five best restaurants to bring the kids along and eat well too

No frozen chicken fingers. Just five restaurants that satisfy young palates and keep the grown-ups happy

Best For Kids
No. 1
Reasons to love Ceili Cottage: its drippingly juicy pork bangers in caramelized onion gravy with creamy mash; an eye-closingly cheddary mac-and-cheese; and its decadent sticky toffee pudding. 1301 Queen St. E., 416-406-1301.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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In a bid to stop the “mega-quarry,” Michael Stadtländer rallies (nearly) every chef we’ve ever heard of for Foodstock


Michael Stadtländer has rallied 100 of the best chefs from across Canada to participate in Foodstock, an epic, pay-what-you-can public food event on October 16 to raise money to fight the construction of a huge limestone quarry in the town of Honeywood, Ontario. The Highland Companies’ plan aims to span 2,316 acres of land and run 189 feet deep (deeper than Niagara Falls), and will have to pump 600 million litres of groundwater out of the pit each day (about the same amount used by 2.7 million Ontarians), all to extract crushed stone known as amabel dolostone.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Fishbar, the new Ossington seafood restaurant from the people behind Salt

Fishbar’s dining room is adorned with Edison lights and salvaged and reclaimed furniture (Image: Gizelle Lau)

After keeping eager would-be patrons waiting for almost six months, Fishbar, the new restaurant from William Tavares (co-owner of Salt Wine Bar just a few doors away), will officially open tomorrow. We snuck in during Fishbar’s soft opening to see what it was all about and meet the staff Tavares has assembled for the front and back of the house.

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The Dish

Food TV

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Next week’s episode of Top Chef Canada to feature horsemeat, outrage ensues

Oh, the controversy. At the end last week’s episode of Top Chef Canada, the preview for episode six featured, among other things, French-culinary-god-by-way-of-NYC Daniel Boulud as guest judge, a classic French cuisine challenge, and—how did we miss this?—horsemeat. Well, other viewers didn’t miss it, and many have been up in arms with Food Network Canada via Twitter and Facebook. They’ve even begun an online petition to boycott the network.

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The Dish

Openings

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More details about La Palette’s new Queen West location

RIP, Taro Grill; hello, La Palette

As we reported last week, Kensington Market’s La Palette is opening a new location on Queen West. After a chat with owner Shamez Amlani, we learned that he’s shooting for a mid-to-late-May opening date, since the space formerly occupied by Taro Grill is still in good form. “There’s some gutting, but it’s not a complete overhaul. It’s mostly new floors and changing the decor.”

Amlani quickly snatched up the location when Taro went belly up last month. “I started my career in the restaurant business in 1989 at Le Sélect when it was still on Queen West, so I’ve been trolling the neighbourhood for years and years.”

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Soft-serve scrutiny, tapeworm population explosion, vegan investigation

Texts and the city: A Toronto exhibition of Dead Sea Scrolls sparks controversy (Photo by Mikey Candelori)

Texts and the city: The ROM’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition sparks controversy (Photo by Mikey Candelori)

• The owner of Le Select Bistro wants Torontonians to boycott the ROM’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. On the resto’s Web site, Frederic Geisweiller states that Israel acquired the sacred texts through “force and looting” during a “surprise war.” Pro-Israel factions were quick defend the country’s possession of the scrolls with a boycott of Le Select. We hope no one questions the rightful ownership of hummus or things could get really ugly. [National Post]

• Two weeks after the Toronto Star found high levels of cloriform bacteria in some local ice creams, new inspection standards are in place. City councilor Brian Ashton praised the Star, recalling how the paper’s “Dirty Dining” series in 2000 forced the city to clean up restaurants with the DineSafe system. Journalism, two. City of Toronto, zero. [Toronto Star]

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