Tag Archives: Toronto

What I Ate On My Summer Vacation

4 Sep

by Marsha Taichman

Everyone I know seems to be holidaying in Maine this year. I was tired of hearing about the ocean and eating lobster, so I decided it was time I went somewhere and did something before I got perceptibly jealous. I ended up in Toronto. I wanted to go to the Toronto Islands, dine at good restaurants and go to museums. After getting too much sun on my second day away, which resulted in an afternoon on the couch with a fan and the Food Network, I decided that the beach was a bad idea. You can’t do it all. I ate, I went to museums, and had a good time without the thrill of sun-stroke.

In Toronto, I stayed with my oldest friend Annie, who I have been lucky to have in my life for the past twenty-five years. The two of us have shared many culinary adventures, perhaps the most memorable culminating in potatoes prepared in every way we could imagine sometime during middle school. As we have matured, so have our palates and our cooking skills. Annie has a pretty incredible food blog called The Egyptian Kitchen, which can be found at http://abissadacooks.blogspot.com/ . I hope that a publisher realizes how great it is and offers her a cookbook deal stat.

Since Annie and I don’t live in the same city anymore, we rarely cook together these days, and cooking seemed like the perfect thing to do on my last night in Toronto. With the house to ourselves, we made a feast of mushroom ravioli with pesto with a side of roasted yellow peppers.

Annie and her partner Dave have a beautiful garden, and we picked piles of basil for our pesto.

basil

I wish you could smell the sheer amazingness of this basil.

We ground pine nuts with grated parmesan in a small food processor and added the fresh basil a few leaves at a time. Then we added oil to bind the mixture, and seasoned the pesto with sea salt and cracked black pepper. We put that sauce aside to finish the pasta.

pesto

Presto pesto!

I got the easy job and worked on the ravioli filling. We bought a medley of mushrooms at the Saint Lawrence Market, which included mostly creminis, but also oysters and a few beautiful chanterelles. I chopped them up finely and sautéed them with butter and nutmeg (Annie’s great idea).

mushrooms

The mushrooms were magnificent.

They cooked down into a meaty, satisfying paste that I kept eating while Annie slaved away on the pasta.

filling

The filling, which looks deceptively like ground beef.

I don’t know what recipe she used for the dough, but a recipe I have always wanted to try can be found here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/02/seven-yolk-pasta-dough/.

dough

Annie makes the dough. Note the gorgeous beet greens in the sink, which were also from her garden.

The next time Annie makes ravioli will be easier because she’s going to buy an attachment for her pasta machine that will produce an assembly line of little pouches, but we ended up rolling the dough thinly, dabbing some mushroom filling on it, folding another sheet of dough over, and then cutting out the ravioli one by one with a postage stamp-shaped cutter, which simultaneously sealed them.

rolling dough

Rolling the dough out into even sheets.

Voila! I slid the ravioli into some boiling salted water, and they cooked up like champions. We gently tossed the ravioli with pesto and proceeded to eat way too much.

ravioli

The tasty results of our labour.

It was a delicious way to end an urban getaway.

Check out Marsha’s bio on the Contributors page.

Lineup at the lunch counter

9 Feb

I was in Toronto last week for the OLA super conference and it totally lived up to the “super”.  I made a detour one day at lunch to shop for some presents and found myself close to Dundas and Yonge. I haven’t lived in Toronto for over a decade but I remembered that there used to be a Jamaican restaurant near Ryerson. I know the block I used to know has been torn down. It’s a very different intersection these days. I figured, however, that a new restaurant might have popped up to take its place. I could have used the power of my iPhone to check, but I decided to do what I love doing in cities – I  started walking. I came across a  Jamaican restaurant called Ritz on Yonge St. It’s around the corner from Massey Hall. I had never heard of it, don’t know anyone who ever ate there, so there was only one thing to do. Check it out.  I went in and was met with a very long lineup. I decided to stay and eat. Here’s where I’m going with this – big line up at lunch = good. Also,  it looked clean, the food smelled great, and the line was moving. When I finally got close enough to see what was behind the counter, I had trouble deciding. I settled on some incredible jerk chicken and made sure to tell 5 more people about the place.

jerk chicken

Sabor Latino on Belanger in Montreal is  another lunch counter I found using this technique. I watched families fighting their ways in and out the front door and decided to find out what was so great. Turns out, the food. Another good find, the name of the restaurant escapes me, was a lunch counter in Hamilton, Bermuda run by a French chef. It was located in the heart of the tourist area, but all the people in line were from nearby offices and the line was out the door.

I am suggesting you try this technique, or let us know if you’ve found any great spots using the long lineup technique.