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Chef for all Seasons? Deal through teambuy today(Nov 26). $75 for chef at home for 2 people

Wow, thanks for the tip - I had never heard of teambuy before. I signed up and ordered two for Christmas gifts.

Nov 26, 2009
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Heirloom tomato seedlings

I planted about 6 different varieties last year, all from Urban Harvest, but purchased them at Big Carrot and Grassroots. In fact, if I remember correctly, their website may list stores that carry their seeds/seedlings.

May 13, 2009
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Vdara = disappointment

I'm really sorry to hear that you were so unhappy with your evening at Vdara. My experiences there could not be more different. The first time that I went, I was meeting friends for Saturday brunch (maybe in February? I do remember that it was snowing). The food and service were both incredible - we stayed almost 5 hours, through two shifts of waiters! They just let us sit and eat and talk, and kept refilling our coffee and water until we decided it was an acceptable time to order a bottle of Prosecco and some of their delicious homemade potato chips.

I went for dinner in late March, and again had excellent food and service. We had an assortment of their breads, with a trio of spreads, then I had the braised lamb shank with smashed potatos and sauteed rapini. I recall that I barely poked the shank with my fork, and the meat just fell off the bone, then practically melted in my mouth. At one point there was a brief power outage in the neighbourhood that night, and the staff immediately brought extra candles to our table and ran down to make sure no one was stranded in the washrooms in the dark.

I was again there for dinner on Friday night, and come to think of it, we stayed a long time on this visit as well - over 4 hours. Not because of slow service, but just because it's such a relaxed place to sit and chat and eat and drink. We had drinks on the patio and ordered "spicy nuts" from the before-dinner menu - a highly addictive mixture of pecans, sunflower seeds, etc. with a sweet and spicy coating. We were also served a free appetizer as the chef was trying out some new dishes. Never in my life would I have ordered tete fromage (see? I don't even want to say it in English!) but I did try it, and I liked it, though I have nothing to compare it to. It was served with toasted baguette spears, grainy mustard and pickled ramps.

We went inside for dinner, and again, it was delicious. I decided to have two appetizers so I could try more than one item. First up was grilled calamari, which was just slightly tough for me, but was served on top of the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi I've ever tasted, along with sauteed dandelion greens, roasted cherry tomatoes, and I think it was in a sort of broth. Then I had wild bison carpaccio, which was outstanding, and topped with arugula, shaved parmesan, and walnuts. Again, service was extremely attentive, friendly and accommodating. I've now taken 3 different sets of friends here, and can't wait to go back!

May 10, 2009
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Truffles in boxes for just two?

Adam & Eve at Church and Maitland.

Dec 17, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hostess gift shopping

I always stock up on hostess gifts at the One of a Kind Show. Last year it was small, hand made, maple cheese boards that I could keep on hand and then buy cheese to give with it when the time came.

Nov 11, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hurry to Metro Farmer's Market for fresh curds!

I ordered mine in advance to ensure that I would get some - they were delicious!

Sep 26, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO: one person bodum

Similarly, I just bought one (not the Bodum brand, though, if that's important for you) at HomeSense this week for $9.99 - makes one large mug of coffee.

Sep 26, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Boiler House

I would echo that - love the space, could take or leave the food, and don't really enjoy the sore throat that comes from having to practically scream to be heard across the table.

Sep 11, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sitges recommendations?

Nothing?
I hope this means that no one has eaten there, not that there are no good places to eat! ;-)

Jul 16, 2008
tracey in Spain/Portugal

Best Coffee Beans in Toronto?

I am roasting some right at this moment! I love them. You can buy them already roasted, but where's the fun in that? ;-) I also find that they roast them too long for my liking, but that is strictly my personal taste.

Jun 30, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sitges recommendations?

A group of friends are making our first trip to Barcelona in late July. While we expect to spend most of our days in Barcelona, we are actually staying in a villa just outside of Sitges. Although I can find lots of good advice here for Barcelona, I'm wondeirng if anyone has any restaurant recommendations for Sitges? Also, our villa has a barbecue and I'm wondering if there are any suggestions for places to buy fresh fish, seafood, etc. that we can cook ourselves?

Jun 29, 2008
tracey in Spain/Portugal

Balsamic vinegar - recos for a good grocery store brand in Toronto?

Fini is my regular brand as well. I may be wrong, but I think I originally tried it because it was highly rated in blind tastings by Cooks Illustrated. You can also get it at Williams Sonoma for about $10.

Jun 19, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

City Hall Farmer's Market-first day of the season

I agree, it's easy to tell. Sometimes the amount of soil clinging to vegetables is a good indicator - or conversely, waxed peppers with little stickers on them ;-)

I find that there are more and more "real" farmers represented at the markets because of the public demand. Also, some of the farmers have both field-grown and greenhouse-grown produce, and if it's not clear from their signage, you can just ask them. Some of them, at certain times of the season, will also sell produce from other farmers. For instance, I was surprised to see one of them with peaches last year because I know where his farm is, and I didn't think that he had fruit trees. When I asked about it, he said that he had an agreement with a farmer in Niagara to provide each other with whatever produce that one grew and the other didn't, so that they could satisfy the needs of their respective customers.

Jun 11, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

City Hall Farmer's Market-first day of the season

I normally go to the market on my way to work in the morning, so I haven't really paid attention to the prepared foods in the past. I took a look today, though, and didn't see it. I don't think the market is fully up to speed yet - at least I hope it isn't, because there aren't nearly as many stalls there now as there were last year.

Jun 11, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

City Hall Farmer's Market-first day of the season

So excited that it's that time of the year again! Not too much on offer at this point in the season, but I picked up some beautful rhubarb, asparagus and green onions this morning. The best part of the trip, however, was to Gurth Pretty's stall - he's going to be there every week with Ontario artisanal and heritage cheese. He had a nice selection of cow, goat and sheep's milk cheeses today, including some that I had not tried before. I picked up some Niagara Gold and a 7-year old cheddar. What a great addition to the market!

Jun 04, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Garlic

Loblaws was carrying some in the fall, but I don't think they have any now. I saw some at Meat on the Beach this afternoon.

Apr 27, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Calling all Cheese Heads

I can't wait for this event - I've already had my ticket for weeks! Just one small clarification - I understand that there will be 6-9 producers, representing 30-40 different cheeses. The Ontario Cheese Society was serving local cheeses at the Brewers Plate on the weekend, and I'm hoping that some of those will be available at this event, particularly Jensen's 3-year old raw milk cheddar.

Apr 17, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Interesting Food Delivery to Leslieville

This may not be what you're lookiing for, as they're already in your 'hood, but we received flyers in the mail this week announcing that Lil' Baci and Kubo Radio are now delivering.

Mar 06, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best tea (bagged or loose)

My favourite is The Tea Leaf, sadly no longer located in The Beach, but I travel by TTC all the way to their new location at Bayview Village just to pick up their tea. I am addicted to the Creamed Earl Grey and the Chocolate Mint (with actual little chunks of chocolate that melt into your cup).

Jan 04, 2008
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Chef Pants?

I bought mine at Dinetz on King Street, but it was a few years ago so I don't remember how much I paid. Definitely less than $65 though.

Nov 05, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

New Thai Restaurant

Okay, I realize that I am treading into treacherous territory here - which I guess is why I've waited a week before sharing this information. Please read this with the understanding that I am in no way qualified to comment on the authenticity of Thai food. This post is strictly related to my experience of a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Last Saturday, I was invited to a pre-opening dinner at the restaurant that has opened (or is about to open) on the southeast corner of Church and Lombard, the former location of a Young Thailand. I think it's called Ivory Thailand, but I went in the back door, so don't quote me on that. The space has been under renovation for what seems like forever, because apparently after it was purchased they discovered that the kitchen and ventilation systems required not just cleaning, but complete replacement. According to residents in the building, they have spent over $750,000 renovating, redecorating, etc., including shipping all of the furniture and decor from Thailand. The owner came by our table to chat, and said that she had also brought the kitchen staff with her from Thailand, but she may have been kidding, I have no idea.

So, the food...in case I haven't stressed it enough, I am no expert...but it was the best Thai meal that I have had in my limited experience. What was remarkable about it to me was that every mouthful was an explosion of flavour, of many flavours, but delicate at the same time. None of that overwhelming heat that I have experienced at other places. Even when I ate a whole chili that was floating in my curry, it had complex, kind of smokey flavours.

While we waited for our meal (it was the first night for everyone, and we were all eating for free, so we gave them a totally free pass on the service that night - I'm sure they'll work out the kinks soon) we ordered some spring rolls. Nothing outrageous about them, but they were tightly rolled, crispy, not greasy, stuffed with shrimpt, nicely presented and very hot. Then we had Spicy Red Curry Shrimp, Tamarind Duck and an order of sauteed mixed vegetables. The curry was lovely, and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. The flavours melded together so nicely, yet I felt that I could taste individual ingredients at the same time, if that makes any sense. I can say without hesitation that the duck was the most tender and moist that I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and the sauce was delicious. The vegetables were colourful, perfectly crisp-tender and very fresh. We ended the meal with beautifully creamy, flavourful mango ice cream.

Two of us could not finish all of the food, and although we weren't paying, my recollection from the menu is that the prices were extremely reasonable. The new furniture is very comfortable - I don't think that I ever went in when it was Young Thailand, but when I would would walk by, people looked like they were really jammed in - tables are generously spaced now. Staff were friendly and helpful.

I don't know diddly about Thai, but I will definitely go back.

Oct 27, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Yoga Spice and Rice: Mediocre Indian Food on Queen in the Beach

I had a similar experience a while back, shortly after they first opened. Not only did the naan taste like the frozen packaged stuff, I think it had freezer burn. The sauce tasted to me like it was made from one of those bottled curry pastes you can buy at any supermarket. Someone must be eating there, though, because the space that they are in is notorious for frequent turnover, and they've lasted a lot longer than I would have predicted.

Oct 21, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Eating in Uxbridge?

I keep hearing about it too - would be very interested to hear from anyone who has been. Apparently it's in the old tannery, and is quite lovely and expensive by local standards. I understand they also own a little lunch/tea place in town as well, but I can't remember the name...it's near the Hobby Horse Arms.

Aug 31, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

City Hall Farmer's Market Report?

Unfortunately, I was out of town today, but I can tell you that they did indeed have both peaches and corn last week - and they were both sweet and delicious!

Aug 08, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO fresh curry leaves

I usually pick mine up at BJ Supermarket, 1449 Gerrard E.

Jul 29, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

"Farmer's" Market Update - What's there...

I was at the City Hall Farmer's Market this morning as well, and was pleased to see that there were more stalls there this week. In addition to the items that Mila described, I also bought huge dark green romaine lettuce, baby red potatoes, beautiful, shiny deep purple onions, little tennis-ball-sized cabbages, and an assortment of red, yellow, orange and purple cherry and teardrop tomatoes. I'm not crazy about currants, but I tasted red, white and black ones from Andrews Scenic Acres today. I also bought fava beans, which I've never eaten before, but the farmer told me how to cook them, so I thought I'd give them a try. Maybe with a nice chianti...;-)

I also bought several basil plants (this will be my second planting this season). I have never had such great success with basil as I have for the last two years with their plants.

Jul 25, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Finally - my own herbs!

I'm so envious of your yard - I'm still in a downtown apartment with window ledges jammed with pots of herbs and lettuces!

The dish that I look forward to every summer is so simple, although depending where you are, it might be too early for it yet.

I chop up big handfuls of herbs, whatever I have lots of - usually basil, mint, thyme, parsley, oregano - with fresh garlic and throw it in a big bowl. I pour over some good olive oil, a bit of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. I cook and drain some pasta, then dump it on top of the herb mixture - the smell is incredible when the heat of the pasta hits the herbs! Then I add chopped fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta and halved kalamata olives. During tomato season, I usually have several different types and colours of tomatoes on hand from the farmer's market, so it's also a very colourful dish - great for summer dinner parties, and virtually no work.

Jun 25, 2007
tracey in Home Cooking

Il Fornello launches ONtario only menu

I feel the same way. I wish that my local grocery store would do the same. I find it ludicrous that all through Ontario asparagus season they were selling asparagus from Mexico!

Jun 15, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Il Fornello launches ONtario only menu

It was great - and I'm not generally a huge fan of Il Fornello. The lamb ribs were very moist and tender, the fresh strawberries and mint on the shortcake were like a little taste of summer, and it was all washed down with a lovely sparkling wine from Pelham, as well as a pinot noir. I wish I had had time to stick around to try some of the other items.

Jun 15, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Il Fornello launches ONtario only menu

I was at the launch yesterday and tried some of the foods from the new menu, including grilled ontario lamb, strawberry shortcake and Henry of Pelham wines. In answer to your question, it is a separate menu, but will continue throughout the year, changing every 2-3 weeks to reflect seasonal availability of ingredients. I understand that they have also switched to Ontario-grown canned tomatoes for all of their sauces, etc. One of the things that I particularly like about the menu is that they list the suppliers right on it, along with contact info, and encourage people to ask their grocers to stock Ontario products.

Here is a link to their current local menu additions: http://www.localflavourplus.ca/docs/l...

You can find more detailed info on the Local Flavour Plus website at www.localflavourplus.ca

Jun 15, 2007
tracey in Ontario (inc. Toronto)