and Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager" (1942)
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DINING OUT IN
TORONTO by John Mariani
as Buyers Wake Up by John Mariani
I've never seen the sky
looking remotely like the photo above, but the
skyline hints at Toronto's superb modern architecture, not least in its
fine new addition by Daniel Liebskind to the Royal Ontario Museum,
nicknamed The ROM. Toronto, this year celebrating its 175th
anniversary, rightly calls itself a “city of
neighborhoods,” from Yorkville, once a hippie center where Neil Young
and Joni Mitchell started out, now quite gentrified, to Little
Italy, Little India, Little Poland, Chinatown, Greektown, Koreatown,
and Kensington Market, all packed with wonderful ethnic places to eat.
At the St. Lawrence Market (left)
you will find shops selling hundreds of
cheeses, scores of breads and pastries, and the locals’ favorite snack,
peameal bacon on a bun, made with brined pork loin, similar to what
Americans call “Canadian bacon.” It was once coated in peameal during
the brining, though cornmeal is now more widely used.
The "Simply Fish" section of the menu offers just that, fish with no frills--scallops, sablefish, ahi tuna, and others--along with daily veggies and fingerling potatoes. In addition to that lobster pot pie, the crustacean finds its way into a light bisque with coconut curry and coriander oil. I was unimpressed, however, with bland Yukon Gold potato crusted fish cakes, despite its romaine lettuce, miso dressing, and tartar sauce. But the fine crème brûlée and a super rendering of campfire S'mores at dessert time more than made up for it.
Two can dine for about $90US here.
On my Toronto visit I had checked in to the Hotel Le Germain, a stylish boutique hotel in the Entertainment District. Off the smart-looking two-level lobby (right) is the restaurant Victor, with its two-story wall of glass and polished wood, where Chef David Chrystian pairs wines with his richly flavorful eclectic food. Like his contemporaries, Chrystian enjoys using as many local ingredients as possible; thus, his beef pot roast with chile beans, beets, and assertive horseradish is paired with viognier or merlot; his bison tartare with soft-fried egg with syrah, and his excellently gooey French onion soup with pinot noir. Each day there is a different curry dish offered--Monday butter-braised chicken, Tuesday Thai lamb, and so on. Dinner runs about $90US for two.
Toronto has fallen in thrall with charcuterie and wine bars, none better than Reds Bistro & Wine Bar (left) and Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar (the latter under new management since I visited). The former offers a broad array of both cold charcuterie, like a creamy foie gras and chicken liver parfait; an Italian offal terrine with focaccia and house-made mostarda; hot dishes include a superb goose confit with warm lentil salad and a touch of fresh orange, and a generous piece of smoked pork belly with sauerkraut and a caraway Stiegl beer mustard. I also thoroughly enjoyed the tender "popcorn" veal sweetbreads en cocotte with toasted brioche and black truffles. Here, too, wine and beer selections are recommended with the menu items, whose main courses include Ontario veal with bacon and parsnip milk risotto, and sirloin and shortribs with garlic mashed potatoes in red wine sauce.
Hard as it is to believe, most of these items are priced at just $12--they are small plates--and you can make a meal of them. But there are good appetizers, too, including a fabulous raviolo with squash, nutmeg, bacon, and truffle foam, and a deviled crab tart with avocado puree and grapefruit. Bay scallops from Nova Scotia were overpowered one night with anise, but the accompanying foie gras was in no way compromised. Ontario veal came with smoked bacon and parsnip milk risotto, and the lagniappe of Nova Scotia lobster. For the heartiest of main courses, go with the very good grilled Wellington County sirloin and braised short rib with garlic mash and red wine jus.
If you eat heartily, $80US should do it for two people.
NEW YORK CORNER
gained cooking in NYC is, I'm told by professionals in the industry,
like no other, simply because of the numerous occasions to cook in
kitchens with great master chefs. In the case of Kerry Heffernan, after
stints at Montrachet, Le Régence, Restaurant Bouley, Mondrian,
One Fifth Avenue, and as exec chef at Polo Restaurant and Eleven
Madison Park, he has became one of those masters, soaked in classic
tradition yet expressive of an exuberant New York style that shows in
all his dishes.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
High-Alcohol Wines Face Backlash as
Buyers Wake Up
It seemed like
a good idea at the time. I had just enjoyed a glass of white wine with
some seafood and the next course was lamb, with which was served a big
red Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Trouble was, this was lunch, and I spent the
rest of the afternoon asleep.
Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which
this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books,
and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.
OH, WE COULD HAVE PROVIDED PHOTOS
BUT. . . UH-UH.
In NYC, Matsuri restaurant will host the Penis Festival on April 1, a tribute to the annual Japanese phallic fête. The Planned Parenthood–sponsored event will feature Big Sausage and a Hard Banana Cream Pie, plus free Jeremy Scott condoms.
FOOD WRITING 101: WHITE TRASH DIVISION
"After a quick look at some superior donutty freshness, we strapped on our fancy English powder wigs and went a-judgin' some barbecue sauces, all for your edification. Not only that, we provided some dirt-simple recipes to experiment with. Our current obsession is to try out the beer bread recipe with some Kronenbourg 1664 and a dash of honey. That's gonna be some crisp-ass bread, right there. . . . We're also not shy about doling out the burger porn as often as we can."--John Seaborn Gray, "This Week in Deliciousness," Houston Press.
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
OWING TO THE NUMBER OF EASTER-RELATED EVENT ITEMS SUBMITTED TO THE VIRTUAL GOURMET, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO INCLUDE ANY BUT THE MOST EXTRAORDORDINARY.
* Each Monday March 29 through April 30, Piero
Selvaggio’s Valentino Houston located inside Hotel
Derek is offering half-off on select bottles of wine for guests, incl.
an extensive variety of Italian and California small producers—hard to
get little gems—and a special selection of verticals and rare vintages.
Call 713-850-9200; toll-free at 1-877-484-4244. Or visit
* On Apr. 3, in New
Orleans, The Southern Food and
Beverage Museum will host Chef Gunter Preuss of Broussard's
Restaurant for a demo of the restaurant's Bouillabaisse. Free for
SoFAB Members, $10 for non-members. Call 504-569-0405 or email
email@example.com. . . . On Apr. 4 the Museum will host the
International Society of Africans in Wine as they launch their 2010
Drink Well Do Good Tour, a 14-city global series of food and wine
exhibitions and concerts. The launch event at the museum will feature
restaurants Dooky Chase and Bennachin's and wines from their official
sponsor, Heritage Link Brands. $80 for SoFAB Members, $100 General
Admission, and $120 for VIP. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call
* On April 5, 12, 19 & 26, in Chicago and Schaumburg, IL, Shaw's Crab House is celebrating
its Silver 25th Anniversary at both Chicagoland locations, with
a Monday Oyster Deal as a thank you for their patronage: $.25 raw
Oysters on the half shell. The by-the-piece oyster special will take
place Shaw's Oyster Bar from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Call Chicago
312-527-2722 or Schaumburg 847-517-2722.
* On Apr. 6 in Dallas,
a Kamen Estate Wine Dinner will be held at Aurora, with guest Owner &
Screenwriter Robert Kamen. Six-course dinner paired with Kamen Cabernet
& Syrah. $150 pp. Call 214-528-9400 or email email@example.com.
* On April 7, Pub &
Kitchen in Philadelphia
will host an ongoing monthly series of "Retro Cookbook Dinners,"
featuring Chef Jonathan Adams’ interpretations of recipes from classic
cookbooks. The first cookbook dinner will feature dishes from
Craig Claiborne’s New York Times
Cookbook, published in 1961. $40 pp. Call 215-545-0350 or
* On April 11th at 12:30 p.m. on Virgin Gorda in the British
Virgin Islands, Biras Creek Resort
will host a luncheon with Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena Winery, where
Barrett’s wines will be paired with the cuisine of Biras’ executive
chef Jermaine “Monk” George in 3-course meal and reception. $65
pp. Guests of Biras Creek Resort can attend as well for $30. Call
* On April 12 in Colorado
Springs, CO, the Summit
restaurant at The
Broadmoor will be hosting a Spring Wine Dinner featuring Chef Bertrand
Bouquin’s new menu and special guest, Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman.
5 courses with wine pairings for $79 pp. Call 719-577-5896 or visit
* Apr. 12 will mark the first Spanish wine class at NYC's La Fonda del Sol restaurant.
The wine classes will be held every second Monday of the month,
featuring 6 wines and an assortment of tapas, taught in the
restaurant's private dining room by wine director Nicholas Nahigian.
$45 pp. visit www.patinagroup.com/east/lafondadelsol/wineclasses.
* On April 14, in NYC
GILT Restaurant will
offer an organic wine dinner hosted by acclaimed importer Joe
Dressner along with GILT’s Wine Director, Patrick Cappiell. Chef Justin
Bogle of GILT will prepare a 6-course organic menu paired with three
flights of organic wine. $275 pp. Call 212-891-8100.
On Apr. 16 in New Orleans,
the Independent Champagne and
Invitational (ICSWI), a world premiere conference, will expose
consumers to more than 100 independent global producers.
Conference activities include seminars, grand tastings, and
champagne dinners at renowned New Orleans’ restaurants, after parties
and more. $325 for the two day event; visit www.icswi2010.com. Call
From Apr. 16 -26, South Australia
will be home to Tastes of the Outback.
South Australian Flinders Ranges and Outback. Sample some
authentic camp oven cooking prepared from the finest regional produce
and local wines. Kayaking down nearby Cooper Creek, propagating native
Australian plants. Visit www.TastesoftheOutback.com.au.
* On Apr 17, in NYC,
Chef Daniel Boulud at Daniel presents
"Burgundy, Bordeaux Blue Jeans & Bluesan Annual Dinner &
Auction" in support of
Boulud and special guest Chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck prepare
a spring menu paired with prestigious Burgundy and Bordeaux wines.
$1,000 pp; tables $25,000. Contact Heather Gere
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: ZURICH; LETTER FROM PARIS: TWO CLASSIC BISTROS
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991). THIS WEEK:
Family Travel Forum (FTF), whose motto is "Have Kids, Still Travel!",
is dedicated to the ideals, promotion and support of travel with
children. Founded by business professionals John Manton and Kyle
McCarthy with first class travel industry credentials and global family
travel experience, the independent, family-supported FTF will provide
its members with honest, unbiased information, informed advice and
practical tips; all designed to make traveling a rewarding, healthy,
safe, better value and hassle-free experience for adults and children
who journey together. Membership in FTF will lead you to new worlds of
adventure, fun and learning. Join the movement.
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
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