Posts Tagged: deli


7
Jul 13

Toronto adventures: Where to eat

 

Welcome to the T-Dot.

Welcome to T Dot.

Cafe Keriwa, 1690 Queen St W. T 00 1 416 533 2552. You simply don’t hear enough about First Nations (Aboriginal) cuisine in Canada. Is it because (as had been suggested to me) they don’t traditionally have a ‘restaurant’ culture?  I have no clue, but I do know that I want to learn more and eat a lot more of their food. If you’re in town then a perfect place to start is Cafe Keriwa who serve Blackfoot First Nations-inspired dishes using traditional Ontario ingredients like sea buckthorn berries and stinging nettles. Absolutely delicious.

First Nations-inspired cuisine and utterly delicious

First Nations-inspired cuisine and utterly delicious

Grand Electric, 1330 Queen St W. T: 00 1 416 627 3459. It’s the hottest taco joint on the block – with all the apparently ‘necessary’ hipster restaurant ‘rules’ – no reservations, no cheque splitting, a menu with very few items and service that veers between delightful smiles and ‘you’re-lucky-you’re-even-eating-here’ scowls.  That said, there’s a reason why there are queues every day to eat at Grand Electric – the tacos are flat-out wonderful. Just amazing. The ‘Jesus Juice’ cocktail was pretty damn fine too. Join the queue and take your chances.

My favourite, the Baja gish taco

My favourite, the Baja fish taco

Saint Tavern, 227 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 647 350 2100.  There was nothing I didn’t adore about brunch at the Saint; from the lovely room with its booths, long bar and superb service to every damn thing on the menu. There was an absurdly delicious bacon-maple-bourbon dish that had me cleaning my plate with sticky fingers, a fine alternative to boring old eggs and bacon when paired with a gorgeous creamy-spicy paprika-dusted deviled egg. Even the rice krispy-encrusted French Toast made me gurgle with foodie-glee. And I don’t even LIKE French Toast.  Love, love, love.

Rice krispy-crust French Toast YUM

Rice krispy-crust French Toast YUM

Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 416 850 4579. I can’t recall the last time that just walking into a restaurant made me want to cry with happiness. It was a bright sunshiny Sunday when I found the Dakota Tavern. I pushed open the door and went into the beer-y darkness and down a flight of stairs into a windowless basement… only to find a magical room – lit with fairylights – a sweet, smooth bluegrass band playing on the handkerchief-sized stage and the room filled with starry-eyed music fans forking up the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

Take a seat and soak up the magic

Take a seat and soak up the magic

Hawker Bar, 164 Ossington Ave. T: 00 1 647 343 4698. There’s a slightly annoying trend for places to not open for lunch around the Parkdale/Ossington area – so I didn’t get to eat at a few of the places I meant to visit… however that did mean that I wandered into Hawker Bar by complete chance and was rewarded by a brilliant East-meets-West fusion of a pulled pork steamed bun for lunch.

Yeah, OK - having menus on cardboard is a touch hipster, but I loved it

Yeah, OK – having menus on cardboard is a touch hipster, but I loved it

Caplansky’s, 356 College St. T: 00 1 416 500 3852. The one thought that dominated my mind as I sat and grazed my way through a ‘highlights reel’ at Caplansky’s? ‘Damn. I haven’t eaten enough deli food in my life.’ I could go on for hours about the sheer brilliance of the kishke with smoked meat gravy, the hand-sliced in-house smoked meat, the grilled salami with chopped liver and red onions, but I’ll just get upset that I live so far from Toronto and can’t go and have it all RIGHT NOW. But you know what? You go when you’re there and have it for me.

Home-smoked and hand-sliced

Home-smoked and hand-sliced

I stayed in Toronto as a guest of Toronto Tourism. However – as always – my views are 100% my own.

Find out more:  Toronto Tourism


7
Mar 13

The story of Maggie, her doorway and Rainier Provisions

Pantry full of treats to take home

Pantry full of treats to take home

I heard something over lunch yesterday that made me tear-up over my roast beef sandwich. I was at Rainier Provisions, checking out Sean Heather’s latest Gastown foodie-magnet. Gastown is a tricky district to define. On the one hand it’s Vancouver’s oldest and most tourist-friendly; home to the ‘Gassy Jack’ statue, the singing Steam Clock, cobbled streets and twinkly fairy-lit trees. There are more hipster joints here than you can kick a hackysack at. It’s also home to the Downtown Eastside, where you’ll find more crushing poverty, drug addiction, homelessness and downright misery than any other area I’ve encountered in Vancouver. These two extremes live uneasily side by side. Occasionally, as with newcomer Pidgin, things break out and get weird.

I get it. Gentrification brings its problems between the haves and have-nots but I have to wonder – what would you rather? If it’s a choice between an empty building and no jobs, or a buzzing establishment that makes a conscious effort to give back to the local neighbourhood, well, it feels like a no-brainer to me.

Large room which can be hired for parties

Large room which can be hired for parties

Sean’s been in Gastown for almost two decades. He’s got a solid record of giving back and getting along with his neighbours. Rainier Provisions is next to the Rainier Hotel, a women’s single-room occupancy hotel, which just had a block of federal funding removed. Thanks to Sean, residents get fed, for free, once a week and a similar meals programme has been in place for years at another of his places, The Irish Heather. I got all mascara-smudged yesterday because I was told about Maggie, a lady who’d lived in the front door of the previously-disused building for three years. When Rainier Provisions was being constructed, instead of evicting Maggie from her doorstep home, it was decided instead to give her some security. So they frosted windows on three sides of one of the unused doorways, added a combination lock on the gate and now Maggie has a place to leave her things where she can come and go as she pleases. She says she feels safer now.

That’s what made me cry. So yes, while many talk up a storm about what gentrification may or may not mean for an area and those who are less well-off, I put all my support behind a company that pays more than lip-service to the idea that we all deserve a place in our community and a damn good meal too.

The food? It was perfect.

The food? It was perfect.

Oh – the food? Hey, it’s Sean Heather – a by-word for excellence – small producers, local suppliers trying to get along with their foodie dreams, so on the menu, great sandwiches, a daily roast (a huge plateful for as little as $8) and jaw-clangingly great ice cream from Vancouver’s finest, Earnest Ice Cream.

Love at first lick with their salt-caramel

Love at first lick with their salt-caramel

Pop in for a meal, or to stock up on deli items like East Vancouver’s Moccia Urbani, D-Original Sauage Company, Germany’s Drews Driessen, and England’s Neal’s Yard Dairy. Take an empty bottle to fill up on peppery olive oil and choose a treat from the towering pantry shelves. And say hi to Maggie if she’s home.

I ate here as a guest of Rainier Provisions. As ever – my views are 100% my own.

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