Archive for June, 2008

From Local Food To Local Food?

Local food has always been a cause that is close to my heart.

And for the most part, the majority of the food I eat is local (and organic).  I do make exceptions for foods that don’t grow in Canada, like chocolate and bananas, and in those cases, I try to make sure that what I buy is at least fair trade.

Which is why I was so excited to go to Treadwell, a mecca for organic local foodies (like myself) located in the quaint little area of Port Dalhousie, which is on the outskirts of St Catharines.  The Everyman and I made our pilgrimage on Saturday to sample the best of what they had to offer.

We arrived a bit early, so we were invited to proceed to the lounge for a drink.  Let it be known that the bartender at Treadwell makes one stiff Manhattan.  I think I was drunk before we even got to our table.  The bottle of Nine Popes Barossa with dinner didn’t help on that front either, though it was quite delicious.

I’ll start off by saying, before we got to the restaurant, I wanted to do the tasting menu.  However, there are two things that prevented me from doing just that.  One; the restaurant will only prepare the tasting menu if both people in your party are having it.  Which is not unheard of, but was nonetheless disappointing.  Two; everything that the server listed on the tasting menu when I asked was on the regular dinner menu.  I’m not sure why they would call it a tasting menu if they weren’t going to prepare something a little different than what you could already order, but whatever.  It goes without saying that I had to go back to square one with the menu.  The server also seated us in the table which was closest to the bathroom (though she told us it was her favorite table in the house) and mentioned that the restaurant was swamped because they were catering a wedding for 150 at a nearby winery.

While I was perusing, the server brought us a small whitefish amuse on a spoon.  The Everyman doesn’t eat fish, so I got to enjoy both portions, which tasted strangely like tuna salad, only firmer.  It was a nice way to start the meal.  Then the server brought us some fresh bread with a Baco Noir blueberry balsamic vinegar and cold pressed canola oil.  Very delicious.  I’ll have to remember to pick some up the next time I’m in St Catharines.

For my starter I chose the potato and spinach gnocchi with smoked ricotta, wild garlic, parmesan foam and toasted almonds.  It was everything I wanted it to be and more.  I would’ve loved to have 3 or 4 more plates of this particular dish, partially because I have a love affair with gnocchi to begin with, but also because it was superb.  The Everyman selected the Pingue prosciutto, with arugula, parmagiano regiano and preserved lemon.  His exact words were; It was good, but in spite of all the other stuff on the plate. The Everyman is what I would call a prosciutto connoisseur.  There is virtually no occasion where he would turn down a slice of prosciutto; in fact, I’m pretty much convinced that the first meal I cooked for him (a pork tenderloin with a prosciutto and sundried tomato sauce) is what won him over to this Foodie’s side in the first place.  Maybe some day I’ll relinquish the keyboard long enough to let him tell you his side of the story.


The Wish List…

For awhile now I’ve been formulating a list in my head.  A list of all the places I want to eat at that I’ve never been to before.  They’re not all fancy, sit-down kind of places, just places that seem to typify the kind of eating philosophies I support.  Right now, that list includes:

Colborne Lane

Treadwell Farm To Table

Gilead Cafe


Moto Restaurant


Me And ‘Taters Down By The Trainyard…

It’s been raining a lot lately in Toronto.

Normally I’d be complaining about that at this time of year.  But now I’m a gardengirl.  And gardengirls love rain.  Rain is awesome.  Rain means I don’t have to visit my community garden every day at lunch and walk there and back in 40 minutes.  Rain means I get to sleep in a little bit more until I install my fancy automated drip irrigation system on the roof.  And rain makes things grow big and strong.  So, as a recap, rain is GOOD.

I walked over to the CG yesterday, and found it in a pretty good state of affairs considering I hadn’t been by in about a week.  My potato sprouts are big, and in all the spots I planted the seed potatoes now (though you probably can’t tell from the pictures, since I was told I need to mound dirt over them every time they break through, and didn’t think to take the picture until AFTER I’d started).  My corn stalks are about 4 inches tall, and the rows are surprisingly straighter than I thought they’d be.  I have a bean sprout or two, and some tiny beets (I think) and my section of lettuce is just starting to poke out.  Because I didn’t mark anything I planted, I am only vaguely sure of what is where.  I know where the corn and beans are because I planted them in rows.  I know that I planted a circle of potatoes at the bottom of the plot.  I know I planted a mixed lettuce border between the potatoes and cornstalks.  I think I planted some beets between one of the cornrows, and may have planted some carrots somewhere.  After the initial planting I did plant a few poblano seeds too, but I’m not sure where; I just kind of stuck them in.  I’m sure they’ll turn up eventually.  I like to think of it as my magical mystery garden, or the Forrest Gump garden… you never know what you’re gonna get ;)

So overall, everything is groovy at the CG, and I’m happy.  I’ve been having dreams about fresh, sun-warmed corn lately.  Yum!  I can’t wait until harvest time.

Until next time…

Another Garden Update…

It’s been an interesting week.

Every day I’m learning more about gardening from my experiments on the roof.  Earlier this week I transplanted all of my full-size tomato plants into a kiddie pool so that they’d have more room to sprawl.  Because I’d never separated the roots for transplanting before, I wasn’t sure if I was being too rough with them, and there were a lot that just fell off.  After about an hour of mucking about, I felt like I was done, but I was also very worried that I’d killed all of the tomatoes.  It’s now been about 3 full days since then, and everything is coming up rosy.  I had super-fertilized the bed and amended it with compost before putting them in to (hopefully) give them a boost, and so far, it looks like it worked.  So that was my Wednesday night.  While my plants haven’t gotten much bigger, they are looking much less droopy and are blooming little yellow flower clusters like crazy.

On Thursday I stopped at our friendly neighborhood farmer’s market and bought 8 quarts of strawberries for jam.  And man, does that make a lot of jam.  I have 14 pints (I think they’re pints, they measure 2 cups each) of jam put up now, 9 jars of regular, and 5 jars of strawberry vanilla.  I am very anxiously awaiting blueberry season so I can go through the chaos of 4 hours of canning all over again.  But I digress.  At the farmer’s market, they also had a stand that sold heirloom tomato seedlings.  And I must have had the word sucker written on my forehead, because the first thing I did was pick the wimpiest, scraggliest plant and take it home with me.  After the fact I was reminded of the Charlie Brown Christmas special, when he buys the crappy tree and takes it back to the gang.  I couldn’t leave the poor wilty plant there, so I saved it.  After posting a picture of it on You Grow Girl, I was told that I had in fact picked a great species – Pruden’s Purple is on the majority of serious tomato lover’s top 10 list.  So now all I have to do is keep it alive.  The Everyman practically had a conniption when he saw that I was bringing home ANOTHER plant, but I reassured him that I would only be companion planting it, so Pruden’s is now living with my baby carrots – see if you can pick her out of the lineup.

Lastly, this weekend I tried to start putting my drip irrigation system together, but I must admit, I’ve been feeling rather uninspired to do this, for fear that I will do it wrong.  Some day soon I’ll get to it (I hope), just not today.  It also doesn’t help that I think I’m missing a few key pieces either.  Oh well, tomorrow is another (gardening) day.

Until next time…

I Love My Garden

Every day before I come to work I visit my rooftop garden to see how my plants are doing.

And honestly, even though I do this at 6am every day, I don’t think there is anything I would rather be doing at that time of day.

Spending time with these plants that I’ve nurtured into becoming food is so peaceful for me.  It’s like a revelation almost.  I get to just sit and be with nature in a very real, quiet way.

It also puts me in a better mood before I leave for work, even if it does mean I talk the Everyman’s ear off about all the happenings every day.

For instance, this morning, I woke up to 3 interesting things:

1 – My little hot pepper plant grew a flower overnight, and it’s so pretty!  I can’t wait until it blooms more.


Ask And You Shall Receive… More Cowbell!

The Everyman and I paid another visit to Cowbell for dinner last night.  The discussion to do so went a little something like this yesterday morning.

Him: Did you take anything out for dinner tonight?

Me: I’m not sure, I think I took out some random beef that I was going to try something new with. Why?

Him: Just curious.  I was thinking about going out for dinner…

Me: Oh really, where?

Him: Cowbell?


Crikey, It’s Hot Outside…

It’s been abysmally hot in Toronto for the last 3 days.  And believe me, I love the heat, so it pains me to complain about this, but I also have lots of little green plants under my care now, so I have to be mindful of these things.  It’s pretty crazy how hot it’s been lately.  On Friday they said that with the humidex it was about 40 degrees outside.  When I got home from work my plants were just barely escaping from being mulch.  So now, I’m trying to determine whether one of those micro drip irrigation systems is actually worthwhile.

But, on to other things.  I visited my community plot several times this week, and it seems to be doing well.  What with all the rain we had earlier in the week, I wasn’t expecting it to be so dry when I got there, but was it ever ready for some water both times I went.  I’m going to try and document it on a weekly basis, to track the progress.  Here’s a pic from week one, which to the untrained eye just looks like a bunch of dirt, but there are actually many sprouts in here, they’re just too small to see.  You’ll just have to trust me.

The roof garden is also experiencing it’s share of growth this week.  Every time I look, the lettuce and beet greens are bigger, and my tomatoes are now almost 2 feet tall.  AND this morning I actually found a tiny little tomato growing on one of my white queen plants.  I am SO excited, but also concerned that it is putting out fruit when it’s still this small.  I think the hot weather may have tricked it a bit early.  Anyhow, here’s a few pictures of the roof this week.

I have more to say, but the heat has made me lethargic, so it’ll have to wait for another post.


Oh Noes! It’s Eating Time!!!

Soooooooooo… it’s been approximately 6 weeks since I planted the first seeds in our roof garden.  And surprise surprise, I actually managed to grow something!!!  The curse of my black thumb seems to have finally (miraculously) been lifted.

And what’s even better, this weekend was the first time that something I grew was big enough to be eaten!  My lettuce barrel has now grown to the point that the leaves are about 4 inches tall, I can’t see the dirt in the pot anymore, and it’s just a bucket of various shades of green.  So, it seemed fitting that I should kill two birds with one stone by thinning out the bucket so that everything else could get bigger, and have some delicious fresh lettuce for my dinner plate.  But I must say, after nurturing these plants for the past 6 weeks, it was very hard for me to take the scissors and start snipping out leaves of lettuce.  I had this feeling that they weren’t large enough yet, and that I was limiting their future growth.  In reality, if I hadn’t thinned out the bucket, they probably wouldn’t have gotten much bigger, since there is hardly any room left for them to grow.  The Everyman said, I just want you to take notice, the lettuce was the first thing on my plate to disappear; so you know it was damn good lettuce.  So good, that at 10:30 last night I was re-seeding the under-producing spinach planter with some more of the lettuce seeds.

Within the next two weeks or so, I am also expecting to nosh on the first of my Chioggia beets, and Parmex carrots too.  I never knew I could enjoy gardening so much, but this has vastly exceeded my expectations.  The only thing that would make me happier is if (or when) my 7 tomato plants start producing.

Lastly, this weekend the Everyman and I spent about an hour planting seeds in my community plot.  I was really excited for this because it gives me the opportunity to grow the larger things that I didn’t think were feasible on our roof.  So, in about 2 months or so, if everything goes to plan, I’ll have a decent sized crop of Ashworth corn, Sugar Daddy peas, Detroit Dark Red beets, Mesclun mix, and baby new potatoes.

Oh I love food!  I’ll be eatin’ good this year :)