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torontovore's Profile

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Hot Dog Cook Off

There's a small set of photos of the hot dog cookoff on Flickr at:

Mad Michael's - BBQ near Midland

Great tips. Thank you!
Bring on the summer road trips.

Heirloom tomato seedlings

I bought mine last year from a vendor at the Waldorf School Farmers Market (Sat morning on Bathurst north of the 407). I picked mostly the Russian varieties since I figured they probably came from a climate similar to ours.

Terra Burger: Anyone been lately?

Just had a look at your photo of the menu board.
Noticed that they no longer serve elk burgers. I guess that was a stretch for the average burger eater since it does have a distinctive venison taste.
Organic bison burger, well it must be imported from out west or the USA because there are no Ontario 'organic' bison farms. I suspect that these bison burger patties must be frozen which makes it doubly difficult to cook them successfully.
I'll choose 'grassfed' over 'organic' any time.
A burger focused restaurant, that grinds their meat fresh each day, would be my ideal. I know there are a few restaurants in Toronto that grind their own, but none of them features burgers and burgers only.

Terra Burger: Anyone been lately?

You're going to have to work on making your photos less appetizing.
The bison burger photo actually looks pretty good.
Too bad looks aren't tastes!

Growing Herbs At Home [split from Toronto]

Not an immediate solution, but if you have a backyard or balcony, or even window ledge inside, you can grow many herbs yourself. Some condos have rooftop areas that can be used, or you may have a balcony. My mother does really well growing on her condo balcony. Many people in ground floor condos/apartments manage to have a little plot if they have an outside patio door. But maybe your condo has rules that prohibit growing your own?
Harvest fresh as you need them during the summer. In late fall, harvest and dry the plant and you'll have herbs all year at a fraction of the cost of buying them.

Apr 11, 2009
torontovore in Gardening

Ramps in any markets yet this year?

My post last year for wild ramp harvest in Southern Ontario ( ) was posted in mid May. No need to panic yet!

Goldin's Smoked Meat: A Review

To me, Centre Street doesn't focus on or promote their meat. Sure it's available, and not too shabby either, but I just don't enjoy the atmosphere. I feel like I'm in a big emotionally cold cafeteria and the meat sandwiches are simply a sideline to the extensive menu.

Goldin's Smoked Meat: A Review

Pancer's is staying in the family. See the Save The Deli post at
Now for me it's a battle between Goldin, Pancer's, Wolfies, and Zane.
It's so great to have choices and the competition can only bring out the best.

"American" Processed cheese in Toronto?

I second Kraft Extra Cheddar. It's available in most supermarkets. Unlike individually wrapped slices, make sure you wrap the unused ones well once the original packaging has been opened.

Beef Connections - Positive Review

Well wrapped meat that you can identify and maybe label with 'date frozen' and good temperature control (don't leave the freezer door open too long) will support storage times to over a year. I think the real key is how the meat is wrapped. Cryovac is good but often leaks air which will dry out the frozen meat (freezer burn). Butcher paper is surprisingly robust in the freezer. Chest freezers are cheap but make you constantly dig around for the package you're looking for which often breaks cryovac packaging. Storage shelves within a chest freezer would really help keep the meat at an optimum quality and also allow for organized storage.

Beef Connections - Positive Review

Do you know if you're buying meat from a single animal, or are the different cuts just equivalent to a 1/4 or 1/2 animal, but from a number of sources?

Passover Shopping - Most Interesting Options

I'm always amazed at the quantity of pop/soda at Jewish family meals, especially that diet stuff that leaves you thirstier after drinking it than before. I'm more a wine or water guy.. But I did get sent out to do some shopping since my wife always makes her fantastic chicken soup for the family Passover meals. I first went to Highland Farms on Dufferin north of Finch, my goto 'produce' supermarket. First I couldn't find any whole wheat matzo among a dozen different varieties and secondly the kosher chicken bones/backs where all within 1 day of expiry and didn't look particularly attractive. I ended up making another trip to the Metro at Sheppard/Bathurst where I found fresher chicken and the elusive whole wheat matzo.

Best burgers

I find burgers are best enjoyed locally I want a place close to home where I can get a great tasting burger at a reasonable price. I don't often want to travel across the city for an expensive burger, even when it tastes really fantastic. Being a Finch/Dufferin, Bathurst/Sheppard kind of guy, I end up at the Times Square Diner on Wilson Heights, just south of Sheppard for my 'everybody knows your name' experience. All day breakfast, old fashioned comfort food dinners, or just simple burger meals are all available. The draft beer in chilled mugs is a real deal.
The burger is home-made style, not a frozen patty. And the cheeseburger is covered in real cheddar, not processed slices.

Times Square Diner
531 Wilson Heights Blvd, Toronto, ON M3H2V7, CA

Weezies, Swan, Allens...

Do you have any idea whether the bison burger was a frozen patty or not? Although I've never found a fresh ground buffalo burger in any restaurant, I'm still hopeful. It could be done but I think the price would be outrageous. The meat is superior in taste and nutrition, but you can't cook it like feedlot beef. I have pre-formed bison and elk burgers in my freezer which I can quickly bbq at home, but the texture of a frozen patty is just not as satisfying as freshly ground.

I've had the Allen's beef burger and it's pretty good. Their fries were not good . I couldn't eat them. Soft, brown, and boring.

Boxed Cheese Fondue Pouches MIA

Every few months I really enjoy a cheese fondue!

I usually buy a boxed pouch from Metro or Loblaws that costs between $7-9.
It's a fast and easy way to make a cheese fondue, just dump the contents into the double boiler and use up crusty old bread.

In the last week I've been unsuccessful finding the product at Loblaws, and today at Metro I've been told that they don't carry it any more. I don't have an old box to know who manufactured or distributed the product but I believe it was imported from Europe.

Does anyone have more info about this missing product?

Sugar Shack in Ontario

I had a free family pass for the Toronto conservation area festivals and I still couldn't bring myself to take the time to travel and visit because I knew there'd be crowds of kids and urbanites with more money than sense..

Love all the maple products! Until recently I helped bring in the old-style buckets and boil down the syrup all night under a brilliant moon using a wood fired boiler at a friends retreat in Madawaska, but we've both got too old to manage the hard work.

We should continue to help kids connect to real foods and their heritage but it will take some outstanding, young, and dedicated teachers to do it.

Monkey Bar & Grill - review and pics

This restaurant was my secret favourite years ago, before the 'makeover'. Chef would circulate to greet and get feedback on his dishes. I was always blown away by the food. This restaurant business is hard work and to hear that he's still cooking, even after the 'touch of doom' RM video promo, reveals a dedication to the art of food preparation that deserves a visit. I'll be back.

Best Falafel In Toronto

If you're in the Tov Li area and find them closed for religious reasons or just looking for a late night snack, then I highly recommend Orley's Restaurant & Grill at 660 Sheppard W. (north side of Sheppard, just west of Bathurst). Their falafel will be freshly cooked for you, massive in size with whatever vege additions you specify, and reasonable in cost. Just be very clear that you want a falafel sandwich when ordering else you may not get the pita bread. Sometimes there's a language barrier that needs attention, but if you watch the prep you can keep things on track. You can eat in or take out.

Where to buy schmaltz?

The Healthy Butcher sells it.

The Healthy Butcher
565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

Healthy Butcher
298 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M4R, CA

Where to find Preservative Free Lard & Beef Tallow

Mario, from Healthy Butcher, has confirmed that they have preservative-free lard and beef tallow in stock. I'll probably pick it up from them for ease of supply. As Danybear suggested, I will make time to visit the Green Barn Market to see what's available there, but it's not easy to fit their limited hours of operation into my schedule.

Thanks for all replies...

Where to find Preservative Free Lard & Beef Tallow

Smoke Point Flavor Testing.

Peter Duffin of Bison Basics ( has been testing the smoke point of canola, olive, ghee, and coconut oils and the resulting taste when cooking grass-fed meats. The interim results were recently published in a newsletter put out by Nina Planck ( Reader comments have asked for similar tests to be made on lard and beef tallow. I'm helping him source the products for his research.

Where to find Preservative Free Lard & Beef Tallow

Asked Mario at Healthy Butcher if he carries beef tallow, I'm pretty sure he has preservative free lard. Waiting to hear back.

Where to find Preservative Free Lard & Beef Tallow

Looking to find preservative free beef tallow and preservative free lard at the same location if possible. It's important that the products are BHA and BHT free. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Free Range Chicken

Thanks, my quick google query missed it.

Free Range Chicken

The website link is just a placeholder page.
I'm interested, but need a mapped address, phone number or valid website to make contact.

Caplansky's Amazing Smoked Meat Sandwich

I agree with escoffier. If you don't support those independents that really are into food (even if you're not totally happy with the venue, preparation, or menu selection) all we'll be left with is fast chain outlets all sourced from industrial food factories,.

Beef Steak Suggestions in Toronto?

I seem to end up at 'The Place For ..." about once a year or so with family who've been going for years. It's like visiting your grandparents house for supper with catered food and weird wait staff. If you go with a light attitude, you'll find the waiters entertaining in a droll way. I usually get some kind of steak which is always ok, but nothing special. Appetizers, sides, and desserts are not worth the effort of eating.

In a totally different style, I went to Allen's on the Danforth for the first time today. They're currently having a steak festival and the prices would be just within your limits. Every steak comes identified by farm, animal breed, feeding regimen and aging details. Since I went specifically to try the freshly ground burger, I didn't get to try the steaks this time but I sure was tempted. Staff is well informed, attentive but not hovering. The burger was fantastic, but the fries were dull and soggy.

I've searched the archives here for reviews of Allen's steaks, but can't find much. Most posts are praising the burger, so it would be great to hear from anyone who's had a steak there and their opinion.

Caplansky's Amazing Smoked Meat Sandwich

My first visit was on the 'grand opening' free sandwich day. The place was packed to overflowing but I did grab a couple of sandwiches and ate them from a wobbly hand-held paper plate while standing against the wall to avoid being bumped and crushed. I really enjoyed them but was expecting a more smokey experience based on earlier reviews.

I went back last week to try more of the menu and see how the kitchen has responded to all the feedback they've been receiving. I know many will disagree, but I like lean meat. Yes I know that the fat enhances flavour and texture but I don't want that fat in chewy chunks (I almost gagged on an inedible fat chunk in a Pancer sandwich). So my sandwich was ordered lean and it was great! Nice and smokey. For hours after holding and eating my sandwich I could still sniff and enjoy a very distinct smoke aroma lingering on my fingers. Any perceived dryness was easily compensated by slapping on the grainy homemade mustard. The only change I'd make would be to have slightly larger bread slices so I could add more mustard and also keep all that delicious meat from falling out of the sandwich. I like the double bread slices that you get at Wolfie's that let you split all that meat into two smaller and easier to handle sandwiches.

I was expecting better of the fries though, again after reading all the glowing reports. I found them overcooked, just edging into a burnt taste, and way too many. I ate about half of them, picking out the least cooked ones. They came pre-salted with a nice coarse salt, but that also might be a problem for anyone trying to take control of their salt intake. I also tried the knish which was served with an excellent meaty gravy that covered the knish and most of the plate as well. Although the gravy was very good I found that the overflowing quantity took away the distinctiveness of the knish, overwhelming its own excellent taste.

Service from both the kitchen and the bar was friendly, attentive, and efficient. I'll go again for sure but will order my knish with gravy on the side so that I can control the mix of gravy and knish. I'll also give the fries another chance and probably order an extra sandwich to take home. Unlike allanc, I didn't notice any odd smell in the entrance stairway, but it is very dark so when leaving take that first step down slowly and carefully!

Organic Bison

I know for sure that the Peterborough Buffalo Farms are not organic. The original owner, Bill Belch (Ontario's Buffalo Bill) was the first to bring bison farming to Ontario and encouraged the creation of the Ontario Bison Association. The OBA supports supplemental grain finishing because it allows for a standard product to be sold throughout all seasons. Summer pasture can be equivalent to organic, but buying (or growing) organic grain for the finishing process quickly becomes cost prohibitive. I've seen their outlet at the Liberty Village market and notice that they prominently display a comparative nutrient chart that is more misleading than helpful to the consumer. For a full discussion of the way USDA nutrient scores are marketed by national and provincial bison associations and their members, see

BTW I used to be an associate member of the OBA and you should be aware that their farm listings, although useful, are not inclusive. A surprising number of Ontario bison farmers do not find value, for varying reasons, in membership.