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mcewan?

We made a special trip there after reading about it in the Globe and Mail and it was hit and miss. We were amused by the banners hanging from the ceiling printed with, well, rather obvious pronouncements from the Master, like "crusty bread is really nice with a good soup." We got:
- 2 grilled panini sandwiches - a cuban and a meatloaf sandwhich...both excellent
- 1 duck confit leg - a nice treat -
- 1 key lime caramel -unusual, very fresh and limey tasting
- 1 special "North 44" rib steak, $28.99 a pound...okay, but really not that special or worth the price....there are many better to be had in TO
- 1 small angel food cake + berry coulis on the side and 1 molten brownie - both excellent...AFC was light and tender, brownie rich and made with high quality chocolate but not too sweet
- 1 package of mixed mushrooms, chanterelles, matsutake, etc. ($8.00, which was okay until I saw the *identical * package at Loblaws for $6.00)
- 1 small package of house smoked salmon - nice taste but zero texture...it was so soft, it was virtually a paste

There seemed to be a lot of other "food tourists" there as well....although the prepared foods counter was a little busy and there were lots of people milling about, virtually no customers at the checkouts. It's a nice shopping experience, but I was pretty disappointed with my $30.00 steak (I've had many at half the price I enjoyed a lot more) and didn't find the selection that impressive...organic strawberries and key limes? Nope and nope. It won't be a destination shop for me like others in Toronto are.

Heirloom tomato seedlings

The Dufferin Grove Park Farmer's Market on Thursdays (Bloor and Dufferin) has at least two vendors selling seeds and plants, and you can also find a few plants at the Nathan Phillips Square Wednesday farmer's market (from 11AM to 2PM) in season if you work downtown and that's convenient. Fiesta Farms is my favourite though: big, beautiful healthy plants and the most interesting varieties.

Saskatoon Berries in Toronto?

I'm from the west (born in 'Toon town actually) and every time I go back to Alberta I take a cooler with me, which I fill with frozen saskatoon berries and bring back because I can't find them here either. This place - http://www.saskatoonfarm.com/ might ship them in the winter but I haven't been desparate enough yet to ask them if they'll do that. They have sturdy little 5 lb boxes with a nice thick plastic bag of berries inside.

Seftalia at the Friendly Greek on Danforth Ave

This is good to know about...I first ate these in Nicosia, Cyprus about ten years ago and I love them. They are also known as "sheftalia". I've been schlepping out to Kostas Meats (Warden and Ellesmere, I think, if that makes geographic sense) to get the "panna" caul fat, which they keep in the freezer and give away for nothing to anyone who asks (occasional Cypriot customers, I guess). I had to make them myself because I didn't know where to get them in Toronto. They're easy to make and taste fantastic with lemon and drained greek yoghurt after being grilled on the BBQ, but be careful with the temperature and all the fat...I nearly burned my deck down once when about three dozen of them caused a fire storm from all the drippings. Kostas meats is also the best and cheapest place in Toronto to buy the strange Halloumi cheese, also a big Cypriot thing...you cut it in thick slices and also grill it. Terrific in salads!

Decent afternoon tea in Toronto?

This is kind of an old thread, but in case you or anyone else looking for afternoon tea information happen to check in, Langdon Hall out near Cambridge does an excellent afternoon tea. I've tried the Windsor Arms, the Red Tea Box, the King Eddy and Taylor's Tea Room in Dundas and Langdon Hall knocked them all into a cocked hat. Langdon Hall is a beautiful big mansion, the former summer home of an American magnate and now an extremely posh and elegant little country hotel. The hoi polloi nevertheless may take afternoon tea there and eat in the restaurant, which is also supposed to be quite good. Reservations are almost always necessary, which is a little bit of a drag and cuts down on spontaneity, but the service is warm and unaffected, the tables are suitably low for the ritual, the scones are meltingly proper, the clotted cream genuine, and the room beautiful and classic....they also serve it outside overlooking their gardens weather permitting. You can also get some very nice add-ons like sparkling wine, sherry or a selection of Ontario cheeses, and the price is about the same as most serious teas in Toronto (i.e. $27.00 for the basic tea+sandwiches+savories
+scones&cream+pastries). The only flaw is the muzak on the sound system: one thing I really admire about the Windsor Arms is that there is *no music* at all in the tea salon because tea is an aid to conversation.

Middle Eastern grocers downtown?

House of Spice in Kensington market definitely has it but I think there's not much sumac in the mix - I bought theirs but added sumac. I checked Akram's Shoppe but just visually....I didn't ask them though and there's a decent chance they would have it too.

Where to buy goat's meat in downtown TO?

Kensington Market is the right place to look: there's a butcher just across from Global Cheese and the Mendel Creamery (east side of Kensington Avenue or street or whatever it is...the one with all the clothing shops closer to Dundas) which frequently has entire goats dangling from hooks in its front window.

Good places to eat on Saltspring Island?

I might just have to dig deep and go to Hastings House. My grandparents lived on Saltspring 1976-2004 and between the ages of 6 and 16, I spent most of my holidays there but was always "just a kid" and therefore never taken along to Hastings House when the grownups went. I will be there in prime time (June 29-July 5) so the market will be in full swing (I'm going to miss the dear departed Fryin' Scotsman fish and chip truck, but in compensation the Saturna Island Canada Day Lamb Roast will be on). I've never heard of House Piccolo but I'll check it out when I'm there. Thanks!

Can't afford Lumiere: Where do I take my foodie friends in Vancouver?

Lots of great ideas here...I'll have a few meals on my own so I think I can put more than one of these recommendations to good use. Thanks!

Good places to eat on Saltspring Island?

I'm planning a trip out (or back) west, and one of the stops will be Saltspring (Salt Spring? I can never remember which is right) Island. I know about Hastings House, but have never been there. I haven't been back since 2002 so I'm completely out of date, but I'll be staying at the Fulford Harbour end of the Island and getting into Ganges at least a couple of times not to mention hitting the cheese farms. Is there anything not to be missed, whether it's a being sold out of the back of a van at the Saturday market or in some sort of restaurant?

Meyer Lemons in Toronto

I bought three Meyer lemons at a fancy market in San Francisco and smuggled them back to Toronto in my luggage, so I guess they were the real thing. They were nice: definitely much sweeter than normal lemons and weirdly enough, I wasn't crazy about them in the lemon dessert I tried. I like lemons *because* they're tart and astringent and always cut down the sugar in lemon dessert recipes because I think that quality shouldn't be bludgeoned with sweetness...so if you like lemons sour, don't spend the money on Meyer lemons.

Verveine

Are they closed for real or just for renovations?

cinnamon buns

I had one hell of a nice Cinnamon-pecan brioche roll at Frangipane (near Dupont and Spadina, park at the LCBO across the street). Not too gooey, moist bread-y roll, very fresh, none of that overly sweet white icing on the top. They seem to have them on Saturdays but it's a little hit and miss (then again they might just sell out quickly).

Visiting Toronto Solo, 1st time...

We were lucky: the Rubinos were both in that night, and that was around the time they were still juggling Rain and Luce (Luce is closed now, so if anything I'd like to go back to Rain and see how it is when it's their primary focus...unless they're opening something else I don't know about). Thanks for the tips on Vancouver!

Visiting Toronto Solo, 1st time...

I live in Toronto and I can say from personal experience that Rain was stunning, one of the best food experiences I've ever had. Admittedly I was there a year or two ago and I took my husband there for his birthday, which happened to land on a Tuesday night so it was about half full of regulars and expense account people. Everything was original, creative, delicious, incredibly complex and layered but not overly challenging...I kept encountering combinations and ideas that never would have occurred to me, but at no point did I have that "do I like this?" struggle in my mouth or mind. Who knew that a deep-fried red snapper spine would be the Pringle of the Gods? I dropped $410.00 on dinner that night but it was worth every penny (and we started to go crazy towards the end, swept along on a tide of food-euphoria..."well, why not? Sure, I'll have a glass of champagne..."). Staff immediately sized us up as bridge and tunnel people but were gracious and professional nevertheless.

Can't afford Lumiere: Where do I take my foodie friends in Vancouver?

I have some serious foodie friends in Vancouver and I owe them big: every time I've passed through YVR in the last five years I've stayed with them and have been entertained royally, either at great restaurants or in their own formidable kitchen. This time I have enough money (A) not to have to crash on their couch, and (B) to take *them* out for dinner for a change. Trouble is, I need to keep it down to $300.00 CAD for the three of us, including everything (food, wine, tax and tip). Am I dreaming in technicolour? Can I get an impressive meal for this much money in Vancouver these days that will meet exacting foodie standards? Or should I just suck it up and apply for an Amex gold card?