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Schwartz's Smoked Meat now packaged and selling in grocery store!

The Schwartz's smoked meat just appeared at Sobey's (the #2 chain) in Toronto and was featured in the weekly flyer. I didn't know what to expect and I didn't expect greatness. I didn't even expect it to resemble Schwartz's. But I didn't expect it to be awful, which it was. I will never buy it again. The Dunn's product sold at Costco in Toronto, whatever it's provenance, is much better, and is better than what was sold at Dunn's in the sixties. Sigh....

Sep 11, 2013
embee in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Bagel frustration

Definitely frozen and would be better if sold still frozen. Not handmade? Not wood-oven baked?

May 20, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Theee best crispy beef in the GTA

Several conceptually similar but really quite different dishes are entangled in this thread.

The dry sautéed shredded beef was on the "secret" menu at China House until Joanne Kates outed it and they "Canadianized" the menu (ruining everything). I think this version has at least some genuine Chinese provenance. (I had the identical dish at two places in NY and one in Montreal in the mid-sixties.)

It appeared next at the Shantung on College, thence to Paul's, then on to the many Paul's clones. The original Chung King, Henry's Hunan Palace, and Peter's Chung King did it very well; Young Lok, Spadina Garden, and another little place on College were decent. Garlic Pepper (Yonge/Wellesley) was good originally but became awful. Peter's served it to the end; still potentially very good, but only if you knew exactly how to order.

Spadina Garden still has it on the menu, but it's boring these days. The Chung King north of Pacific Mall (supposedly descended from the original) serves it, but they kept giving me the "white guy food" version so I stopped going. I don't know what Helena was like way back when, but the dish was awful there about three years ago.

The sweet crispy beef served all over town, the battered version served for decades at Yen Ching (among others), and the "Hakka" versions of crispy beef are all very different. If there's a good version of dry sauteed shredded beef downtown, I'd like to know where, as I've long been addicted to this dish. I learned to make it, and it's really difficult to do well. My wife insists I have the fire extinguisher handy whenever I try.

Szechuan Szechuan (I haven't been there in many years) served a very bastardized version, enrobed in sugar until almost candied. The sugar coating turns a dish that's cooked three times and doesn't hold into one that's very easy to prepare. Thing is, it's not the same dish.

Apr 19, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The best place for smoked meat

Schwartz doesn't use any wood smoke.

Apr 19, 2012
embee in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

ISO: farro

I don't know anything for sure, and the label you describe compounds my confusion - farro, spelt, and dinkel as synonyms plus emmer (mentioned above). I recall being served "emmer" and "dinkel" as a child, but they didn't make much of an impression. We never had "spelt" or "wheat berries".

What I remember as "emmer" was what some people called "farfel". Farfel (I suspect you agree) is a small pasta and not an ancient grain. Dinkel was different,but I don't recall specifics - I think it was served as a cereal.

The timing is also not definitive. Differently processed wheat berries have different cooking times and farro seems to come in whole, pearled, and toasted forms. I did a bit of research before posting this - if anything, it left me more confused than before.

Apr 12, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO: farro

I think "farro" is being used as a (currently trendy) marketing term. There certainly isn't a specific type of grain universally called farro. Most Italian markets stock something labeled farro, which seems to be similar to spelt (if not the same). The word "spelt" has "health food" implications; "farro" doesn't, making it more appealing.

You can use farro, spelt, and wheat berries of a similar type (e.g., whole, pearled/split, toasted) pretty much interchangeably in recipes.You can also use barley in farro recipes, though I wouldn't consider it interchangeable.

Apr 12, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nathans Hot Dogs

Definitely not made by Marathon.

Their "official" word to me (take that as you will...) is that all Nathan's-branded stores are supposed to sell the same dogs, which are gluten-free and in a natural casing. However, franchises are permitted to sell skinless dogs where these are the local preference. No mention of who makes these, though I believe John Morrell controls the spice formula..

Most Nathan's-branded packaged dogs (natural casing and skinless) are made by Specialty Foods Group, and are supposed to taste the same (but may contain small amounts of gluten).

HOWEVER, they license the Nathan's name! While licensed products should be the same, they may not be - particularly those sold at convenience stores. Potentially, any Nathan's package not made by SFG is suspect and they suggested that I always read the label.

Licensing opens up a real Pandora's Box. I recall the sign on Shopsy's during the Maple Leaf scare to the effect that "Shopsy's meats are not sold here".

Apr 09, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nathans Hot Dogs

I doubt it. They claim to use only identifiable muscle meat. The ingredients list does not mention "mechanically deboned beef", beef by-products, or "finely textured lean beef", the three pseudonyms for "pink slime".

Apr 09, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nathans Hot Dogs

The closest source of HN to Toronto is Tops on Niagara Falls Blvd. Sorry :-(

Apr 09, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nathans Hot Dogs

I finally got a chance to try the dogs at Coney Island this past August. They were cooked on a flattop, in the old fashioned way, and with some care. They were good. However, they were not the dogs I miss from my childhood. I'm not prepared to state that they differ from the natural casing dogs in a package.

Apr 09, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Refurbished & Seconds KitchenAid & Jenn-Air Appliances in the GTA?

Caplan's used to have Miele in their outlet section and should have this info. (Miele now sells direct, with the stores acting as "agencies".)

Jan 08, 2012
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

where to buy whipping cream that is not ultra pasteurized to make creme fraiche in Toronto

You can make creme fraiche with most brands of UHT cream, though not all (I can't remember which ones don't work, though).

That said, Hewitt's is the real thing and is fairly widely available at high end places and natural food stores. Take the "best before" date very seriously.

Liberte makes a reasonably priced creme fraiche (widely available). Liberte 30% sour cream also works very well as a creme fraiche substitute.

Dec 15, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

I love my Sodastream fizzy water machine

Great device; sleazy company. Welcome to the Canadian Sodastream experience. They did this to us a couple of years back. I've posted about this in detail earlier (see above), so I will not repeat, but find a local refiller (unaffiliated with Sodastream) if you can. If you aren't as lazy as I am, you can look into some of the available Sodastream alternatives.

Dec 15, 2011
embee in Cookware

Hooked Seafood - New fishmonger on Queen

I love Diana's, but they certainly make no claims of sustainability. I was genuinely excited about hooked, a three minute walk from home, but I've just about given up after leaving multiple times without a purchase. I recognize that good fish is hard to supply consistently, but hooked no longer seems to have much good, or fresh, or well prepared fish.

From a different perspective, the fish at Pusateri's is not necessarily sustainable or of exceptional quality and can be more expensive than at hooked.

Dec 14, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hooked Seafood - New fishmonger on Queen

Sustainable seafood good: poor quality sustainable seafood not worth eating

Dec 11, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hooked Seafood - New fishmonger on Queen

Actually, thousands of perfectly cooked plates per hour would be more accurate. I miss that place almost as much as I miss Ebinger's bakery.

Dec 06, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hooked Seafood - New fishmonger on Queen

I need to moderate my comments of a few months ago. The fish on display over several recent visits did not justify the rarefied prices. Much was frozen/thawed and neither the fresh nor the frozen fish had the characteristics I look for when shopping for fish. On my most recent visit, the scallops looked nice, but not much else. The perch looked especially over the hill.

Dec 05, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

LOBLAWS Maple leaf Gardens

Dry, dry, dry is, sadly, correct. According to the guy who seemed responsible for setting up that part of the store, all poultry is cooked to at least 190 F per Toronto Public Health. He suggested that I might prefer to avoid it. Silly and sad....

Dec 04, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best chopped liver in Toronto?

Nortown (contains eggs and much schmaltz) and Centre St (sweeter and with lots of fried onions) - two distinctly different styles. Bagel House on Bayview has Solly's for their in-house sandwiches. I assume they sell it to go.

Nov 02, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

President's Choice Black Label

Not exactly....

Dave Nichol actually bought the Insider's Report from Trader Joe's, who then changed the name of their publication. The President's Choice line was "inspired by" the St Michael brand of Marks & Spencer.

Sep 14, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

New Pancer's Deli

I remember the one at Bathurst & Steeles and another in the Golden Mile Plaza on Eglinton E in Scarborough of all places. My memories of Red (& Harv?) Pancer's delis are not good ones.

FWIW, Centre St doesn't sell pastrami - only MSM straight from Lester's. I don't see Pancer's Pastrami (I think it's Chicago 58 with added spices) and Lester's MSM as the same thing.

Aug 27, 2011
embee in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

making montreal smoked meat at home

Overcuring can dry it out, but I don't think four days will make a big difference. If you rinse it thoroughly, let it dry, and add your rub (with no salt!) before storing it, you will increase flavour intensity somewhat.

I'll address your other post in a few days - no time now.

Aug 22, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

Bakersfield is not meaningful

Aug 19, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

Okay, moving to Jones and Danforth: you may achieve the enlightenment you seek by looking at pastramis in addition to MSM

Goldin's MSM is a dry cure (available as a slab at Free Times Cafe on College)

The Dunn's MSM I referred to is sometimes sold at Costco (jayt90 can advise re: availability) - the "Dunn's Famous Delis" around Toronto are not suitable - avoid them

Steele's Deli has a decent brine cured pastrami

Wolfie's on Wilson has the best tasting example of "denatured meat" - get the old fashioned MSM (also available at Centre St Deli, but I feel Wolfie's version tastes better)

Aug 19, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

You can fix the uneven curing and tinker with cooking times, but I ain't seen any way to fix the cow....

Aug 18, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

It's easier to see, slice, and taste than to describe.

1. Get a slab of smoked meat from Schwartz, from Dunn's, and from Lester's

2. Look over each slab. Look at the form of the meat. Pay particular attention to the cut edges. What do you see? Does it have obvious needle marks? Does anything appear "unnatural" How does it feel? Look carefully at the grain - how does the grain differ among the three slabs?

3. Cut a slice from each slab while cold. Was it easy to slice? Not so easy? Really difficult?

4. Taste each slice. What do you taste? Do you sense any unusual undertones? How easy is each slice to chew? Does it resemble your own experience with meat? Is it unnaturally soft? Is it rubbery? Stringy?

5. Warm each slab, cut a warm slice from each, and repeat the previous steps.

The Schwartz is a dry cure; Dunns implies a dry cure, but what do you see that suggests it isn't a dry cure (or, perhaps, is not solely a dry cure); Lester's is a pumped cure with additives (I call this "denatured meat")

Please post your findings.

Aug 18, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

Okay - so Mrs Porker then :-)

"Its HOW you use it which is most important" So how, already?

Aug 18, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

So her how? Nu? Spill it.... How is it you should use it?

(I never did get a good smoked meat in Côte St Luc)

Aug 18, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

Both

Aug 18, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

making montreal smoked meat at home

- I've ordered curing agents from stuffers.com in Canada. They carry type 1, type 2, and Tender Quick.

- "Pink salt" is a USA thing. These products are not necessarily coloured in Canada.

- Nitrates/nitrites aren't actually necessary, though I personally find them important for flavour development in pastrami/MSM. Corned beef is fine without them (though many people are put off by the resulting colour). Dry cured corned beef made without nitrates is especially good.

Aug 17, 2011
embee in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling