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Mail order the Atlantic

I actually grew up in Maine, and moved to Toronto a few years back. There are a lot of foods from back home that I really miss, and while I know our areas don't share everything, I was wondering if any of you knew of a place where I'd be able to mail order local food products, like canned clams or oyster crackers. Possibly even canned brown bread or actual /good/ baked beans.

I do know of a few places I could order from in the States (or just have my family mail something up), but I'd prefer to order from within Canada.

Thanks for any assistance. :)

Jun 18, 2011
precia in Atlantic Canada

Oyster Crackers...(Yes, revisited)

Oh, you're right. Thank you for responding anyway. I just might have to give the pilot bread a try, though...

Feb 18, 2011
precia in General Topics

Oyster Crackers...(Yes, revisited)

I know it's been a while, but where were you finding oyster crackers in Canada? I've been scouring Toronto for them. At this point I'd be happy to just mail order them.

Feb 17, 2011
precia in General Topics

Looking for clams

I'm in a similar situation, though what I'm hunting for is definitely more lowbrow - canned clams. Chopped, diced, minced... anything but whole.

This may or may not be helpful, but I'm fairly certain I saw whole canned clams at the No Frills at Coxwell & Gerrard. That was quite a while ago though.

Feb 12, 2011
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO oyster crackers in Toronto

I grew up in New England, and one of the foods I miss the most has to be Westminster oyster crackers, sold under the Olde Cape Cod brand. I recently returned from the states, so I'm stocked up for now, but would love to find them in Toronto.

I've checked local Valu-Mart, Sobeys, Metro and Price Chopper with no luck. Has anybody seen these? I'm willing to try different brands, if anyone finds any. They may also be labeled as soup & chowder crackers.

Feb 08, 2011
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

What is Canadian Cuisine?

I was considering the label of "Canadian Food" just the other day. It's a tough one. I grew up in New England and moved to Ontario, and the food culture is very similar between the two. (Though New England also has a few items that are more regionally Maritimes than Ontario.) Aside from a few key dishes that I know wouldn't be found outside of New England, I'd have a hard time listing off items of "American Cuisine".

There are a lot of great ideas already in this thread, and I can really get behind the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner. Even if you do a truncated version with a whole roast chicken or turkey breast instead of the whole turkey, it should be enjoyable for all. Sunday roast (beef or pork) dinner would be a decent idea as well.

I think really anything you grew up eating is the right answer.

Jul 20, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Real Cider in Toronto?

The organic cider is made from Ontario apples (around St. Catharines), but the rest of their apples are from BC.

The cherry cider is pretty crisp and tasty, though the cherry flavour is very subtle.

Jun 19, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO pastry / bakery / cake box downtown

Oh, thanks! I feel a bit too cramped for time to order, but I'll definitely file that away for future kitchen needs.

Jun 16, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Should You Tip on Takeout?

I count myself as an excellent tipper, when dining out, and if I pick up an order, and pay cash, I'll likely toss my small change into a tip cup.

But preparing and plating (or traying) food is someone's job, no matter the effort. When I worked in a retail warehouse, I never got tipped for bringing a different size shirt out to the floor, because that was my job. I also never got tipped for helping customers load large purchases (ice fishing huts, gun safes) into their trucks. That service, at least, was not in the letter of my job, but in the spirit of making the warehouse run smoothly.

As others have said, waitstaff is there to make my visit comfortable. They get a tip based on how well they do that job, because that is how their paycheck works. If they get stuck piling egg rolls into takeout boxes instead of serving their in-house customers, that's not my responsibility. Similarly, if a grumpy waitress took my order, brought my food to the table, and I never saw her again through the meal, she wouldn't be getting a tip (or would maybe net herself 5%) because she wasn't doing her job.

Jun 16, 2010
precia in Features

Real Cider in Toronto?

I've got an appointment Saturday to bottle my first batch of cider at Fermentations. They actually have about 10 varieties of cider (no idea why their website is incomplete). I'm getting the cherry cider, which I expect will be delicious.

I'm fairly certain they don't use concentrates - they don't for their beers. Only their organic cider specifies Ontario apples, but that doesn't rule out local apples for the rest. It takes about 4 weeks to do a batch.

Jun 15, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO pastry / bakery / cake box downtown

I wonder if you could use a takeout drink tray to stabilize cupcakes inside of a larger pastry box...

Jun 15, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO pastry / bakery / cake box downtown

A search on the subject turns up a couple old threads (2005 & 2008) on bakery boxes, and the most recommended source looks like Bulk Barn. I was wondering if anybody knows of a store closer to downtown where I could find bakery boxes (of any dimension). I'll specifically be around Yonge and Dundas/Wellsley, but anywhere within the central core would be appreciated.

Jun 15, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Any bean recipes for people who don't like beans?

You mean baked beans from a can, right?

There are so many different kinds of beans out there, so it's really worth trying to like them. Personally I love beans - all kinds, expect for red kidney beans. Those are the devil's beans, right there.

Perhaps ease yourself in by making a pot of chili? While there's a lot of debate about beans in chili, I perfer a meatless chili that is all beans. So, make some chili however you like it, and add a can* of drained beans near the end. Try black beans or pinto beans or chickpeas. If you still really hate them, they'll be fairly easy to eat around.

Taco night is another great way to work beans into your meals. Open and drain a can of black or pinto beans, toss them into a skillet with a bit of oil, garlic and onion, maybe a hot pepper. You could even mix some shredded chicken in, too, to cut the beaniness. Serve with warmed tortillas and toppings.

*I use dried beans, myself, but there's no sense in you buying a bag if you're not prepared to eat a couple pounds of them.

May 17, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Taco Bell's Low Blow

A bean burrito is 370 calories, a 16 oz soda (is that a medium or a small? Do they even make smalls?) would be around 200 (unless you go for diet) and the bag of Doritos is 250. So yeah, 820 calories for $2.

May 17, 2010
precia in Features

Anyone ever felt jilted by Chowhound?

OK, that kind of thing really bothers me, too. We had a southern food/BBQ place opening, and long before it was open, right after it had been announced, everyone was condemning it. Toronto is not known for southern food. So everyone felt it was safe - and acceptable - to assume that the owners of this place knew nothing about southern food, were fibbing about their credentials and had looked up recipes on the internet? It was insane. They've been open for a while now, and you know what? The food may not be 100% authentic, but it is very very good.

May 02, 2010
precia in Site Talk

Anyone ever felt jilted by Chowhound?

I've never had any problems with posts being deleted, but sometimes users have made me want to pull my hair out. For example, someone will ask for recommendations about a specific restaurant. I'll pipe up and say that for X dollars, Y on the menu is really great and it's one of my favourite things, and I've never been let down. Someone else comes into the thread, says that at another restaurant, you can get something similar to Y - item Z - for X+20 dollars, and it's so much better and that they actually feel bad for me - they feel BAD for ME! - if I think that Y is worthy of being a favourite!

Maybe Z is better than Y. For an extra $20, I should hope it is. That doesn't change the fact that the item that was being focused on originally is still very good. And there isn't any user who has the right to look down on me.

May 02, 2010
precia in Site Talk

Friendly Toast recs?

I've never been to the Cambridge location, but I have enjoyed just about everything I've ever had at the Toast. My least favourite dish was the King Cakes - an Elvis sandwich in pancake form - but only because I found the chocolate chips to be overwhelming. My all time favourite item is their cayenne-cheddar bread.

I tend to opt for their egg based breakfast selections (so I can have that toast), but a number of my friends really love the Almond Joy pancakes as well as the Carribean waffles. And honestly? The Toast is not a place to worry about calories in. (I mean, there are plenty of calories, but there's almost no point going to the Toast if you're going to get fruit salad.)

Apr 12, 2010
precia in Greater Boston Area

Vegetarian Wedding Menu

You could do grilled or breaded and fried eggplant cutlets along with the spinach and potatoes to evoke a traditional Sunday roast kind of meal. Portobello "steaks" would also work.

Vegetarian moussaka would also work, as it's quite solid. I simply replace the ground beef of my grandmother's recipe with lentils. Sides of rice pilaf and any veggie with a Mediterranean flair would work.

Any stuffed pasta is easy for a meatless option.

Are you planning on offering multiple meal options? If you can, everyone should be able find an option to please them, no matter how much they love steak.

Apr 05, 2010
precia in General Topics

What can I do with this bag of Juniper Berries, besides garnishing G&T's?

This isn't helpful at all (sorry) but when I made sauerbraten I subbed a splash of good gin for the berries. I can't say if it really replicated the original flavour, but it was pretty good. Mostly I'd just rather have extra gin than juniper berries!

Feb 20, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Trying to make crock pot meals daily, recipes please!

Sorry about that! I've let it slip my mind while cooking, too. I can be such a space case. I hope it turns out well for you!

Feb 18, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Oscar Potluck--but the theme is wacked!

I vote for a towering blue jello mold for Avatar. That'd be hilarious, and really outside of the box. Or you could make a big chocolate cake and dye the frosting blue, for Avatar AND Up.

For a main dish, a South African Bobotie (it's like meatloaf) would be fairly easy to make and easy to serve at a potluck.

Feb 18, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

What to Cook In A New Dutch Oven

A little splash of beer never hurts. Maybe something in a Mexican style with a little splash of lime juice. Those tacos sound really good...

And of course there's the NYT no knead bread. The recipe calls for a 6-8qt dutch oven, but my 3.5qt one works just fine, so there's no reason yours wouldn't work as well.

Feb 18, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Trying to make crock pot meals daily, recipes please!

Oh, geeze, I forgot the garlic! Mince, slice, crush, whatever, maybe 5 or 6 cloves of garlic and chuck them in with the tomatoes.

I've never bothered experimenting with extra ingredients, but I bet basil wouldn't be bad.

When I do it on the stovetop, I slowly cook the onions alone for maybe 15 minutes before adding the tomatoes, to kick start the process.

Feb 18, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

Trying to make crock pot meals daily, recipes please!

Of course you can convert just about any stew or soup into a crock pot dish. Here's one of my favourite stews, which I just make on the stovetop because it's relatively quick, and mostly consisits of idle time, but there's no reason it wouldn't work for the crock pot as well.

Chickpea stew:

Decide between canned or dried chickpeas. If you opt for dried, rinse, soak, etc them in advance. Honestly, I'd precook them in advance (so you're starting something like 2 days early), but they should be able to cook from dried in the crock pot if you add extra water and give them a solid cooking, but chickpeas tend to be sturdy little buggers, and I can't say how tender they'd end up.*

Thinly slice a ton of onions, throw them into the crock pot. Add 2-3 cans of diced tomatoes (I like the plain ones). Set to low for however long. You just want the onions to stew down and become sweet. When you get home, add a cup or two of cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned) and several handfuls of spinach (baby is great, but adult works too, you just have to slice it into managable sizes - frozen also works, but avoid frozen chopped - it's just little specks of spinach and kind of ruins it) until the beans are warmed through and the spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice and salt to taste, and several tablespoons of olive oil for a luxurious mouthfeel.

I like to serve it with good crusty bread, though if your family requires meat at every meal, you could easy tack on thick slices of hard sausage like salami or pepperoni (and maybe some cheese) and give it kind of a picnicky feel. I would not recommend adding meat to the stew itself.

*You can always freeze chickpeas after soaking and cooking, for later use, if you'd prefer to do a bundle in advance. Just defrost before bunging in the crock pot.

Feb 18, 2010
precia in Home Cooking

"Cheap and Cheerful" Steakhouse in TO?

:p

Mind you, my mother cooked steaks by putting them in the oven for about 3 hours, so I'm not a huge steak person. I'd generally rather get a burger. The Tulip might not do the best steaks in the world - or even in Toronto - but they're still damn fine pieces of meat. The price point is what encouraged me to try their steak, and I'm really glad I did.

As for dinner, I'm free Thursday. ;)

Feb 16, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Chinese delivery Woodbine/Danforth?

You're thinking of Yummy Food & Bubble Tea, just north of Queen on Coxwell, formerly called Bene. Before they redesigned they also sold lackluster pizza and subs, but the menu is now strictly Chinese. I believe delivery is free, though I could be mistaken.

One of our favourites is the lemon chicken, which is a breaded and fried slab of chicken, with a lemon sauce on the side. The sauce isn't overly sweet, just a good balance between sweet and tart. I also really like the Szechuan Eggplant, which is very spicy, but also tender and juicy with a small hint of sweetness, like the lemon chicken. I've definitely liked everything I've ever had aside from their black bean sauce, but I think I just don't like black bean sauce.

They've got just about all the standard menu items, so you can pretty much order off the top of your head. Entrees tend to range from $7-9, and are generally good for 1.5-2 meals, more with rice.

Their number is 416-466-1234. I'll see if I can scan and post their menu later tonight.

-----
Bene Pizza & Thai Food
6 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4L3A7, CA

Feb 16, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

"Cheap and Cheerful" Steakhouse in TO?

I haven't been to the Tulip since this summer when I moved, but I've been delighted with every single visit. I get the small sirloin, the cheapest on the menu, and it is hands down the best steak I've ever had. It's $17 for a 12oz steak, with the fixins (not the mushrooms and onions though) and I can hardly ever clean my plate.

I've also sampled the steak sandwich, the peppercorn cream sauce and several of their sandwiches and have never been let down. The ambiance is a winner as well.

Feb 16, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Lobster bake on the beach in southern Maine

You mean a restaurant with a beachfront location that does the whole lobster bake shebang? There aren't any that I know of. However, there are a few places that come close:

Chauncey Creek (http://www.chaunceycreek.com/) sells lobster, and is on the water, but not the ocean. It's pretty rustic.

Foster's (http://www.fostersclambake.com/) is near the water, but not on it, but provides what is probably the closest you're going to get to a festive lobster bake without a caterer. They've got onsite horseshoes and volleyball, and a guy who does music and Maine-themed comedy.

The kid with the allergies worries me, though. Just about every seafood place in the area does offer non-seafood options, but they can't always promise that every item hasn't come into contact with seafood/shellfish. Warren's (http://www.lobsterhouse.com/) is similar to Chauncey Creek and has a special allergy menu (on request), with foods that are prepared/stored on the other side of the kitchen. You may want to contact whichever restaurant you decide to in advance, or at the very least alert your server to the allergies, instead of just assuming the chicken is safe.

Of course you're probably used to dealing with this sort of thing, but you really can't be too cautious in a dedicated seafood place.

Feb 09, 2010
precia in Northern New England

Celena's Bakery at Woodbine & Danforth opening Sat Feb 6th

My chocolate chunk cookie was really good. Nice big cookie with a serious homemade taste for $1.50. I don't actually know if that's the official name for it, because it was the only flavour they had at the time. Stock on everything was really low, and the place was hopping, but they also had an assortment of biscotti, ginger spice loaves for $4.99, a variety of jams and chutneys (including a seville orange and chocolate marmalade) and I saw someone leaving with a pie. Coffee, hot chocolate, lattes, cappucinos, etc ran from $1.50-1.99 for a good sized small.

Very cheery, friendly atmosphere. Really good cookies. It's nice to have a bakery in the neighbourhood.* I'll definitely be back in next time I want a good loaf of bread, and look forward to seeing if they do special occasion cakes.

*I'm actually much closer to Jubilee Cakes, but have only seen them open once - walked by during their posted hours to see all the lights off, walked past a few hours later and noticed they were open for a change - about an hour after they should have closed for the day. I'm not entirely convinced they aren't a front for something else.

Feb 06, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

New Southern Food downtown Toronto: Smokin' Bones?

Absolutely. I imagine they're trying to err on the side of caution, and will hopefully strike a balance soon. And if they don't, at least gravy responds well to seasonings after the fact.

I love a good white gravy. Sometimes we just make biscuits and gravy for dinner, with big chunks of sausage on the side. Of course, then I have to cook with beans and tofu for the rest of the week to make up for it. :p

Jan 14, 2010
precia in Ontario (inc. Toronto)