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Parchment muffin tin liners?

I know they have them at Cayne's (cayneshousewares.com). Not the location you're looking for, but if you're planning on ordering a Kitchen Aid or something... ;)

Nov 25, 2012
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Martha White Cornbread mixes

Are Martha White's cornbread mixes available for sale anywhere in Toronto? If not (or even if so), are there any comparable mixes that are sold in Toronto?

Nov 14, 2010
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Buster Rhinos new Store

I've had the sturdiest freezer bags (ie, commercial) get wee tears in them in transit and storage. I think the culprit is usually shoving stuff around in the freezer - if there's anything even kind of pointy, it'll be frozen solid and could inflict damage. I've had things that I'd put into the freezer commercially shrinkwrapped (so if there was a tear, it'd be easy to see), and come out unshrunk. It's always a bummer.

To get back to the original topic, my husband is looking forward to trying the new store. We've picked stuff up at the original - and holy cow, their brisket is to die for - but depending on where he's working, alternative locations are a great thing.

Aug 30, 2010
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sweet miso sauce

Is there an adequate pre-fab brand of sweet miso sauce that can be obtained in the downtown-ish area? I know it's unlikely that any will be nearly as good as from a real restaurant, but if there's one that's decent, I'd appreciate the recommendation.

Jul 30, 2010
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

New Izakaya joint @ Yonge & Eg

I've been to Fin twice now, and am very pleased. I really enjoyed the unagi don and the blowtorched saba. The sake and wasabi marinated octopus starter is also delicious. The ika sushi is phenomenally tender, and only on a very small bed of rice. I have tried a couple of the rolls, and have enjoyed them immensely. I will avoid the one with cheese on top (?!), however. I've also been pleasantly surprised by the bill at the end of the meal. I consider this a pretty nice spot. Service is very friendly, and they seem to be super customer-oriented. My second time there, I was mistakenly given two things I didn't order - which they knew at the time they presented the dish, and could simply have removed without me even knowing - and was cheerfully told they were on the house.

As for the plinky shamisen, I'm pretty convinced they had one song on repeat, rather than the whole CD. The first time, yes, the same piece played repeatedly the whole time. The second time, there were multiple different pieces.

Jul 04, 2009
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

toshi sushi review

I find that uni is like oyster, in the sense that you'll know it's off by the smell. In my experience, uni is extremely variable in flavor, so not every piece will be an explosion of fabulousness, and you can't always tell nuance of "pretty good" versus "amazing" by scent. But if it's nasty, the smell will let you know. I was once served - at a reputable restaurant - uni that quite literally smelled like cat litter. I sent it back, and it was replaced with another order which smelled precisely the same. Unsurprisingly, I have not been back.

Nov 18, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sammy's Eatery on O'Connor

Has anyone been to this place? I've gone by (but not in) a thousand times and still don't know whether it's a "family restaurant" or a "prime rib house" or both. Or neither. So I'm curious, but not really willing to commit without any info.

Good? Bad? Indifferent? Info appreciated.

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

Cafe du Lac (Lakeshore W/Mimico area) - review

A friend and I went for dinner on Saturday, and we found the service to be stellar. We arrived sans reservations, and the server (is one of the servers a co-owner? She was very warm and at-home in a way that suggested a certain proprietary-ness) and she said they were booked full from 7pm (it was 6), but if we didn't mind a less-leisurely pace, she'd be happy to oblige.

We ordered... generously. It was out of our neighborhood, so we decided to make it really worth the trip. So, we had the poutine... Not traditional, it's true. It's a creamy sauce rather than a gravy-like sauce, but the cheese was curds, and the braised meat was a yummy addition. We both agreed that a little more salt would have been nice, but oversalted is a far greater sin. My friend had the country pate, which was delicious, and a pumpkin soup (served in a little pumpkin). Thumbs up. For mains, I had the seared duck, which was beautifully rare and seasoned perfectly. The mashed potatoes were blue and very creamy, and the side veggies were perfect. My friend had the chicken supreme, and she raved repeatedly that it was phenomenally moist and tasty. Desserts, we both had the chocolate mousse. Yum! Mine was a smidge frozen in the middle, but thawed as I enjoyed it.

Through it all, our server was absolutely thoroughly cheerful and warm, and efficiently prompt without ever yanking stuff out from under us. We did get the bread basked with two types of butters, and a description of everything we inquired about. And even as we approached zero hour of 7pm, she continued to ask if we were all right, if we wanted anything else, etc. Even with the time constraint, we didn't feel rushed or like we were being pushed out. We were being brisk ourselves, since we didn't want to make customers with reservations have to wait, but the server didn't give any indication she wanted us out-out-out.

As an interesting point, we overheard her talking to a couple of other customers, and I'm 99% sure she said that the only thing on the menu that was fried were the french fries, so there was never any flavor crossover through the fryer. Nice to know you won't get fish-scented frites.

Dinner for two with 3 starters, 2 mains, 2 desserts, and soft drinks, was $80, and we left *very very very* full - and we are BIG eaters. The poutine could very easily be shared by 2 or even 3 as an app, and even the country pate would be a perfectly pleasant starter for 2. Non-oinky types might even happily share a dessert.

We're definitely going to return (with reservations) and try some more goodies. It's clear the chef takes pride in his food, so we're looking forward to more specials... and probably poutine. Non-traditional or not, it's darn tasty.

Nov 03, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

oysters at loblaws or loeb(metro)

Picked up 4 different kinds and sampled them last night. The Malpeques were very nice, the beausoleils were nummy, and the... dammit, I'm forgetting the name... Port something? were really lovely and plump and briny. The raspberry points, however, were a huge disappointment. They looked and smelled fine - don't get me wrong, the weren't "off" - but they were almost entirely flavorless. Fortunately, I had plenty of others to enjoy.

They were all fresh and clean, and definitely tightly-shut. I have 7 small puncture/slices in my left hand from the knife. (I hold them in my hand while shucking, and use no gloves/towel, so I do take that risk). I'd buy them again (except for the raspberry pont).

Oct 31, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Looking for sesame covered seared tuna....

I'm not going to vouch for "great", but I've had it at Baroote's (King & Simcoe) and it was nicely done. I believe it's appetizer-sized, though. It's been a while.

Oct 31, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Horse in Toronto?

Whitehouse Meats in the St. Lawrence Market often sells horse, and can order it for you. But you have to ask, as it's not kept on display.

If you're planning on using it for tartare, make sure they don't get/give you the cut that has pork fat (!) wrapped around it.

If you're planning on cooking it, medium-rare at most. Yum!

May 23, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Chowfind at Main and Danforth

Based on the comments here, a friend and I decided to make the trek to Bistro Camino for dinner. Overall review: two thumbs up.

Yes, the area is less than posh, and yes, the restaurant's decor isn't glamorous, though not grungy or anything. But the food is really, really delicious. At really, really good prices.

I started with one of the day's specials, which was sauteed oysters and bacon on mixed greens with a light balsamic dressing. The oysters (6? 7?) were still plump and gently briny, the bacon (possibly pancetta) and dressing were a lovely complement. For the main, I had the beef stroganoff. It was clearly made a la minute, because the meat was still rare and tender. The mushrooms and onions in the rich sauce were plate-licking good (I refrained) with the sour cream on the side (I did not refrain). Perfectly cooked veggies artfully arranged, accompanied.The main came with a choice of soup, and I had the potato and corn chowder. Yum! Gently creamy, sweetish from the corn, no mealiness at all. Gorgeous.

My friend, a lighter eater, had the other soup of the day as her starter - a minestrone with chick peas. She was very enthusiastic. Note, though, the soup is not vegetarian upon close inspection. For her main, she had the Angus filet salad. A generous portion (we guessed about 5 oz, maybe more) of fresh-grilled filet, to her specifications, on field greens, with a tasty dressing.

Desserts followed. The lemon-coffee panna cotta was devoured promptly. My creme brulee was a bit pedestrian, and not freshly-prepared, but still tasty.

Everything was plated beautifully, and the service was... perhaps a smidge laissez-faire, but the server was knowledgeable and efficient when needed, so it's a minor quibble. And again, at the prices...

My meal of a starter (oyster-based, mind), a full-sized soup, a main, a dessert, and a bottle of fizzy water was $45 after tax. I call it a steal. I neglected to notice my friend's bill, but the soup was in the $5 range, the salad around $9, and the dessert around $6. Also a steal.

There were many other things on the menu that we wanted to try, so we will definitely be going back. Thanks for the heads-up, Chowhounders!

Mar 04, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ROAST BEEF DINNER----Where's the Best?

I didn't have the prime rib at Prime, but a regular dinner out. My steak was overcooked (medium does not equal the rare I requested). I consider overcooking a steak an unforgivable sin at a steakhouse. When I pointed out it was overcooked, they asked me if I wanted a new one, rather than whisking it away, horrified at their error, with an apology and providing me with a new one instantly (Maybe that's a personal preference, but I don't think that the customer should put in the position of having to choose "demanding" or "tolerant". The food is wrong, so fix it unasked, I say.) For the many hundreds of dollars the dinner cost us, that's two sins too many.

As to how that relates to the prime rib dinner, I figure that if they can't cook a filet properly to order, I wouldn't count on them to cook a whole prime rib for group service.

Mar 03, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sushi Resto for Date (downtown Toronto)

My go-to is Fune, at Adelaide & Simcoe. I've never had anything less than excellent. It's got the same owners as Yamato, but doesn't have any of the theatrics.

Refering to other suggestions you've had, Nami is very popular, but I was served a bad oyster there, and as far as I'm concerned, that should *never* happen. The odor was palpable. I haven't been to Takesushi in a very long time, and the reason for that was that they upped their prices a shocking amount. I'm not sure how they compare price-wise these days. The food was always good, though.

There's also a place right next door to Japango. They are clearly hoping to get Japango's overflow, as their presentation is really quite lovely and the three times I've been, the food was delicious. However, their musical selections are peculiar (Avril Lavigne? Seriously?) and they sometimes suffer from a peculiar odor emanating from somewhere in the building. It's not them - and it's certainly not a "food gone bad" odor - but one time I went, it was rather disturbing at first.

Feb 27, 2008
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Foie Gras

No, it's definitely mold. It looks as though the shrinkwrapping failed, as there was some airspace. I'd left it in the fridge for a couple of days, and when I went to slice it, there were some small flecks of mold, as well as a fingerprint-sized patch. Looks to be superficial, which is why I'm asking about cutting it off. I know if you get mold on the outside of a firm cheese, you can cut it off with a nice wide berth and be fine. I wondered whether one could do the same with a foie gras. I chucked it into the freezer to initiate stasis while I find my results. I'd hate to lose a whole one - they ain't cheap - but I'd also hate to poison anyone.

Feb 24, 2008
Smalph in Home Cooking

Foie Gras

Two questions...
1 - how long should a shrinkwrapped fresh whole foie gras happily keep in a good cold fridge?
2 - if you found your fresh whole foie gras developed a few specks of mold, would you cut it off (with a wide berth), or chuck the whole thing?

Feb 22, 2008
Smalph in Home Cooking

How long to steam a smoked meat?

I was given a whole smoked meat that just needs to be steamed before slicing. Unfortunately, they did not provide info on how long to steam it. I'd guess it to be 5-7 pounds. Is it just steam to heat through, or to cook? Any advice would be appreciated!

Oct 28, 2007
Smalph in Home Cooking

Downtown with great soup?

I'm a dedicated omnivore, leaning to carnivore, and like things that require a knife. A friend leans veggie, and is keen on hearty veggie soups.

We're looking for a dinner spot both of us can enjoy, in the downtownish area (Queen to Bloorish, Bathurst to Broadviewish, but a block or two extra for greatness is okay).

Is there a place with a terrific veggie-based soup (inclusion of meat is okay, light on onions and garlic), but also good non-soup food? Extra wrench: Options with no cilantro.

Oct 23, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Japanese in East end

I know this has come up before. And recently. But despire scouring topics, I can't find the answer. I'm looking for good Japanese (especially sushi) in the Queen/Pape area, give or take a few blocks. Recommendations?

Jul 23, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO

Sadly, Fune no longer has the AYCE. However, I'll put in my word for them as a terrific sushi place anyhow. We are always impressed by the freshness, and if you feel up for the cliche, they do have the best sushi pizza I've ever had. They almost always have uni (yum!), and... well, they're our go-to place for good (full-price) sushi. For the AYCE, I'll say that Sushi Eaton, mentioned above, is pretty darn good. Best variety of any of the AYCE places I've gone to.

Jul 22, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Need lots of lobsters

Atlantic Ocean Harvest (www.atlanticoceanharvest.com) professes to do delivery that's ocean-to-your-door in 24 hours. Looks like the price runs about $15/lb. I've not ordered from them (yet) myself, bit have been keeping them in mind for some occasion. They're very responsive in email (I've sent a couple of questions) if you have any queries for them.

Jul 15, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

BEAUTIFUL Restaurants and GREAT food in Toronto???

You might want to ask about photography policies when you make reservations at some of these places. Not all establishments will welcome you taking pictures while inside. Even some non-restaurants (stores, etc) don't permit photography.

That said, you've gotten some very good recommendations. And for "food with a view", we've got the CN Tower. Not the "ne plus ultra" on food, mind you, but one fine background! And if you take the stairs, you could surely have extra dessert. ;)

Jul 10, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Guanciale in Toronto

Thanks! They do carry it, but require I order it in advance. My friend is making me make dinner tonight, so if I can't find guanicale in the next few hours, she's going to be stuck with bacon. It'll serve her right for being pushy. But Maselli's is a great resource for next time.

Jul 04, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Guanciale in Toronto

Do any Chow folk know if there is a place I can obtain guanciale in the city? Preferably very downtown (ie, St. Lawrence Market, Whole Foods, Pusateri's) or close to Pape & Danforth? I've got a friend begging for authentic Carbonara, and all my research indicates I should definitely try for guanicale instead of bacon/pancetta, if possible.

Jul 04, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy ribs at the St. Lawrence Market

A rib-off sounds like a great plan. When you're at Upper Cut (ask for Bob! Tell him Renee sent you...), why not grab a few beef ribs, too? I mean, for a FULL rib-off, might as well go whole hog AND whole cow, eh?

They won't steer (no pun intended) you wrong, in my experience. I've got nothing bad to say about Brown's, but Bob is my go-to guy.

Now I need to go get ribs, too. D'oh.

Jul 04, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy ribs at the St. Lawrence Market

The oil at Domino's (I hope) is "Rommens Heydary Caviar", although it's only written in teeny-tiny script on the "crest" on the label, and then sideways on the import information on the side.

Finally. I certainly did manage to drag this out to a silly length. Apologies.

Jul 04, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy ribs at the St. Lawrence Market

Naturally, I can't recall (and didn't write down) the name of the SLM brand, but I'll try to remember tonight. If you're at Domino's tonight (and I do hope they still have it!), it's a 250ml (I think) "rectangular" type of bottle, clear, with a creamy-white label with a sort of royal-looking crest on it, plus a couple of little truffles. It was $39.95 when I bought it, but I did make the mistake of nattering on about what a great price that was, so I also hope they didn't jack it up!

Nice to see, also, that Napa Valley is using genuine truffle. I really wish theirs didn't give me the waxy-mouth (and since you bought some and didn't experience that, and my friend didn't, either, it may be specific to lucky ol' me). Pure olive oil would also be nice, but at the price, it would be silly to complain. (aside: "YMMV" means "your mileage may vary", as in, my experience may not be yours... so I hope I don't lead you or anyone else wrong)

Jul 03, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy ribs at the St. Lawrence Market

Okay, here is my report back! Sorry for the delay. I went to Winners to find some of the Napa Valley truffle oil, to do a comparison.

The aroma of the stuff I got at SLM (made with "truffle aromas") is much - MUCH - richer. I did a taste of each one - nothing fancy, just a couple of drops of each, straight up. Both are pretty strong that way, with the SLM one being considerably more powerful. The big kicker for me was that the Napa Valley left a very unpleasant waxy feeling on the inside of my mouth. It was like it congealed on my tongue. I'm guessing it's from the canola blend, being a bit "thicker" than the straight olive oil. Whatever it was, I spent 20 minutes trying to get the taste and texture out of my mouth.

Just in case I had a vested interest in "protecting" the (perceived) merits of the SLM oil, I had a foodie friend do a blind smelling/tasting of the two. She didn't experience the waxy-mouth from the Napa Valley, but she immediately declared the SLM one "far and away, no comparison" superior to the Napa Valley. When asked if it was four-times-the-price better, she still said yes, though probably not universally.

That said, YMMV, plus the Napa Valley is perfectly nice (if you don't get waxy-mouth), and comparable to some of the lower-priced ones I'd purchased before, and it's considerably better priced than those (if you can find it... I got the last one hidden cunningly behind identically-labelled balsamic vinegars at the Winners I went to).

I do find both oils' labelling curious. Napa Valley's says both "white truffles" and "white truffle essence". Which is it? What is "essence" compared to "aromas"? And the SLM one doesn't have "Canadian" labelling - does "aroma" mean something more authentic in Italy? I don't have any answers there, I'm afraid.

Jul 03, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy ribs at the St. Lawrence Market

Mila, I'm honestly not prepared at this moment to say if it's the real thing or not (I'm on lunch at work, it's at home), but it is the most deliciously fragrant, robust, and earthy "truffle oil" (quotes just in case!) I have come across. I'd still pay the difference even if it is assorted chemicals. It's that yummy. But I'll have a look at the label tonight and see if it's got details, and get back to y'all.

Now, I'm craving Via Allegro's mushroom risotto with truffle oil. Perhaps the most delicious thing I've ever eaten!

Jun 27, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

harbourfront area?

Oh, I had forgotten Spice Thai, and I used to live in that building! I went not long after they opened, and had such a horrifying experience that I never returned, despite the enticing aroma coming out the filthy back door by the driveway.

The three things I remember about my one meal there are 1) They managed to serve me my shrimp, unintentionally, almost entirely raw - if they can't remember "pink is cooked, blue is raw", then I worry. 2) We ran out of water before the meal arrived, requested more, and did not see our server again until the end of the meal, which leads to 3) The SERVER was carrying an infant that screamed as though it had a red-hot poker touching it, for the entire duration of our visit. We could hear the shrieking from the kitchen as if it was next to us...

Of course, things change, and it's nice to hear that the place has improved enough to warrant a recommendation!

Jun 27, 2007
Smalph in Ontario (inc. Toronto)