Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

All The Flavours Of The Rainbow

The Flavour Thesaurus

When I was out the other day buying that ridiculously overpriced ice pop maker, I also happened to be in the neighbourhood of The Cookbook Store which was coincidentally just the place where I had a birthday gift certificate from my mother in law burning a hole in my wallet.

Knowing my habits fairly well, I have never allowed myself to set foot inside their store before.  Since I already own several hundred cookbooks (and counting) going here even semi-regularly would just be a really bad idea.  But, I had the gift certificate and I was in the area so I figured I might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone, right?

Just as I suspected, The Cookbook Store was a beautifully curated room devoted to nothing but books on epicurean delights.  It was pure heaven for a food/print nerd like me.  After perusing the store languidly for nearly half an hour, I was in the unenviable position of finding way too many books to take home with me.  Standing firm, I decided that I would only choose 1.  Of course, I couldn’t decide which one it should be, so I put down the whole pile and begrudgingly prepared to leave.

Out of the corner of my eye I spied this colourful tome sitting atop a stacked table and hesitated.  After quickly paging through The Flavour Thesaurus I immediately knew that this was the book for me.  Aside from the vibrant colour wheel on the cover and the fuchsia-tinged pages, the concept of the book resonated with me.  Since I don’t often cook from actual recipes, being able to easily identify clever flavour pairings is right up my alley especially when they’re collected all in one handy reference place!

Author Niki Segnit divides the book into 16 central flavour profiles, such as woodland, marine, bramble & hedge, sulfurous, etc and then divides each group into several pertinent subsections (i.e. sulfurous contains cabbage, brussels sprouts, eggs, etc).  Each subsection then lists ingredients that pair well with the highlighted base foods in a manner reminiscent of a textbook entry.  Some suggestions, such as artichoke and lemon or broccoli and cheese will come as no surprise to even the most casual reader, but more subtle pairings such as anise and rhubarb and parsnip and banana definitely intrigued me.  Proving that the book is also on the pulse of the culinary world, the au courant chocolate bacon marriage gets a nod, too.

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Score One For The Veggieheads

L.A.B

The general success of Meatless Mondays around here has inspired more than a few changes in our day to day life recently.

For starters, the Everyman (entirely of his own accord) suggested to me last week that he would be fine with going meatless twice a week (who knew it could be so easy?)  I suppose that is a testament to the justice I’m trying to do to vegetarian fare and fresh produce in general for him to say so, but I was surprised nonetheless.  I’ve since decided that we will do a second night each week, but this one is not going to be a fixed evening and will just float in whenever it feels like it fits.

Another such change was our willingness to check out L.A.B (aka Live and Breathe) on Sunday, which is Toronto’s newest temple of molecular hijinx fused with a heavily vegetarian flair.  Of the 2 chefs at L.A.B, Howard Dubrovsky is reportedly a vegetarian, (as was our server for the evening) and you could tell they were both eager to share their enthusiasm with the dinner crowd.  I’d first heard about L.A.B several months ago via a preview party I’d read about and to be honest, at the time I wasn’t overly excited about it (other than being happy for one more non-Italian option in Little Italy).

Having read the reviews in The Star and The Globe though, I was intrigued enough to want to give it a whirl.  I’d intended to check it out on Victoria Day weekend, but as luck would have it, they were closed.  The Everyman suggested a visit this past weekend (I suspect partly so he could get out of an impending trip to Ikea) but I was inwardly concerned that he wouldn’t enjoy the brazenly molecular flair.  As it turns out, I needn’t have worried.

When we arrived at L.A.B the eye-poppingly graffitied space was sparsely populated (normal for a Sunday, I expect) with diners situated around the perimeter of the 28 seat room, and chef was working on a slightly elevated pedestal behind the bar, though truly it looked like a stage.  Once we settled ourselves in, we were offered a cocktail list from which I chose a faux-jito of muddled mint, blackberries, pomegranate and soda, and the Everyman selected a Kentucky cooler (I believe that’s what it was called anyway) which blended bourbon, red wine, apple and spices into a heady, deeply hued sipper.  On the merit of the drinks alone I was convinced that all signs pointed to deliciousness.

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Now You’re Cooking With Gas

52 Loaves

During the past few years, baking bread has become more than just a part time obsession.

So, when I saw that William Alexander had a new book out called 52 Loaves, which was all about his year long quest to create the perfect loaf of artisanal bread, the story immediately resonated with me.  I too have been trying to perfect the art and craft of bread baking for quite some time now, (though I’ve never restricted myself to just one kind of bread) so the idea of such an undertaking was entertaining to me.

I’ve been meaning to read his other book The $64 Tomato since I first heard about it 2 years ago, but my Chapters wishlist is one of those things that only balloons as time goes by, yet despite buying several hundred dollars worth at a time the list never shortens.  Having just finished 52 Loaves and generally clicking with his writing style, I’ll be sure to jump his book about my other all-consuming passion (gardening) to the top of the list soon.

52 Loaves chronicles a year in the life of Alexander and his family, as he attempts to recreate a delicious peasant bread he consumed at a restaurant with his wife once.  What begins with the planting of a small field of wheat on his property, quickly escalates into so much more.  Week after week the fleeting memory of the ephemeral loaf haunts him, as the leaden, close-crumbed replicas he churns out in the beginning bear no resemblance to his ideal.  But as months pass, he educates himself further, reaching out to a yeast factory, several famous author/bakers and a growing number of books, culminating in a typical pilgrimage to France, though his is slightly unconventional as he ends up baking in a centuries old monastery, and also teaching the brother monks how to bake again.

Throughout the book hilarity often ensues, as Alexander writes about conventions, lectures, state fairs and a half-assed attempt to build a backyard wood fired oven that he was promised could be completed in a day.  He narrates the story with dry wit and charm, all the while causing the reader to wonder if he’s about to go mad.  One thing I particularly liked about the book was that he agreed with my analysis about the no knead technique, and after attempting it he wasn’t overly impressed either.  By the end of the book, you’re still not sure if he’s found what he’s looking for, but nonetheless he’s amassed scads of knowledge along the way.

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When Blogs Beget Books

The Art Of Eating In

Because for years I worked at an internet company, and then moved to my current job where I’m employed by the internet division of our company, I assume I can be forgiven for not constantly keeping on top of the latest blogs, trends and memes.  When you spend 8 hours a day on the internet for your job, the last thing you want to do is come home and surf the internet a whole bunch more.  In fact, it’s a wonder I ever started this blog in the first place (2 years and counting!) since it obviously requires a fair bit of my spare time be devoted to the blasted internest, but it’s all about food, so it’s a labour of love to me.  I never fell for Myspace, I didn’t fawn over Facebook and even though I have a Twitter account, I find it to be of very limited value.  I guess you could say that in some respects I’m a bit of an internet rejectionist, since I have little time and patience for it as a medium.

That being said, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I’d even heard of Cathy Erway or her blog, Not Eating Out In New York.  I think I may have browsed over to a link for a recipe on her site once, but by not making myself aware of the context of her writing, I didn’t find it interesting enough to follow.  I only recently heard about her book The Art Of Eating In through a recipe on Serious Eats, of all places.  In fact, the post was the impetus for me to finally test out that whole no knead bread thing.  And even though I wasn’t absolutely blown away by the no knead bread (I think I just like traditional bread with sourdough starters better) I was intrigued enough to seek out the book and add it to my reading list.

Now it should be noted that to date I’ve not found any blog to book treatments that have tickled my fancy, because for the most part a lot of these bloggers’ stories do not resonate with me.  I think I’ve made it quite clear how I feel about The Julie/Julia Project over the past few years, and though I know many people who love it, I never got into The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Now, if that Hunter Angler Gardener Cook guy wrote a book (he hasn’t yet, has he?) then I could possibly get myself engaged, but generally speaking, it’s just not happening.

As such, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t find The Art Of Eating In immediately riveting.  It’s not bad when considered as a kind of social experiment (in fact, it reminds me of that The Year Of Living Biblically guy crossed with No Impact Man) but I found that the book spent more time meandering around how the whole not eating out in New York idea impacted finding and keeping a romantic interest more than anything else.  Certainly it was neat to read about the act of participating in all sorts of community cook-offs and underground supper clubs and broadening of horizons through foraging and freeganism, but overall I did not find the story to be all that compelling.  The recipes on the other hand were definitely worth reading, and I’ve earmarked several of them to try in the next little while, particularly the smoked tobacco and coffee infused dish from one of her supper club parties.

Perhaps it struck a bit of a chord with the bit of poor girl left in me, but the idea of constantly eating out (in any city) seems ridiculously extravagant to the point of almost being insulting.  Because of that perspective, I might be a little biased when considering the idea of giving something up that for most people is an unimaginable luxury.  Several times whilst reading the book I’ve wondered if I would have found it a more page-turning read if I’d been following her blog for any length of time beforehand.  Truthfully, I think it’s doubtful, but if there was one thing about the book that explicitly pleased me, it was the way it spurred on a number of people to challenge themselves to a week of not eating out, via the gauntlet that was thrown down over at HuffPo.

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What Shall We Eat For Dinner?

The Gastronomy Of Marriage

I’ve often wondered if those 6 words might just be one of the most uttered phrases in any relationship.

Having caught up on some (long overdue) reading lately, I’ve had my nose stuck into The Gastronomy Of Marriage by Michelle Maisto for the better part of the past week, a tale which attempts to answer that exact question.

I’d first heard about the book back in December, while combing through one of many ‘makes a great gift for a foodie’ guides that tend to present themselves right before the holidays.  The summary made the story sound interesting enough, so I’d earmarked it on my Chapters wish list and then forgotten all about it.  While at the bookstore returning a duplicate gift after Christmas, I’d spied the bright veg on its cover and was inspired to take it home.

I’m not entirely certain what it is about the photo, but there’s something romantic, sensual, yet poignantly sad about those 2 crooked gourds wrapped around each other.  Perhaps I’m just full of silly sentimentality, but to me it evokes an us-against-the-world feel which doggedly tugs upon my heartstrings.

Throughout the story, Maisto explores the link between family and food and how they influence our personal opinions of what makes a suitable meal (or comfortable life), all against the backdrop of her impending marriage.  Combining the single households of Italian American Maisto and her Chinese American husband prior to their nuptials often produces comical results.

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Burger Wars

Not A Slider, Actually

There’s been quite the battle being waged for burger supremacy in Toronto lately.

Specifically, it seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new fancy burger joint (complete with a list of premium organic meats and toppings) opening up.

I’ve sampled most of the “gourmet” burgers in town, being an above-average fan of burgers in general, and also a lover of a man who absolutely adores all things bacon cheeseburger-esque.

During the last few weeks I’ve sampled 2 of the newer offerings, so I’ll be ranking them in the context of some of the other boutique burger shops I’ve tried thus far.

Shortly after it opened in early November, the Everyman and I hightailed it to Oh Boy Burger Market to see what all the fuss was about.  We’d been anticipating its opening for quite some time; likely ever since I first saw their papered over window during the summer, if memory serves.  While the service was a bit spotty, the room completely packed and several items were sold out on our visit (can you blame them when they had only just opened and had already been written up in The Star?) the burgers themselves were tasty and exhibited that lovely, lacy crust that I crave on the outside.  I opted to have the Oh Little Boy combo which came with 2 mini burgers, while the Everyman had a regular size.  Both were skillfully cooked, and it’s important to note that even with the size differential both were flavourful, juicy, and not the least bit dried out.  They also got bonus points for offering a really pungent blue cheese for topping the burgers; on top of the 2 minis it was like tiny bites of heaven.

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What I Learned From Splendido

Cerignola

To commemorate 4 years spent not killing each other, the Everyman and I visited Splendido for our anniversary on Monday night.

It was a blustery night, full of fierce winds and drifting snow, but once we entered the dining room the outside world was forgotten, until the table next to us (a mother and son) began kvetching about all manner of nonsense at a fairly audible level.  We were lucky that they left before we were halfway through dinner, because they certainly made quite the racket and distraction to our romantic intentions.

To keep things interesting, shortly after we arrived Conviction chef Marc Thuet and his wife sat down at the table behind us, ushered in on a cloud of stale cigarette smoke and dour French arrogance.  They seemed to enjoy the food but every time I glanced over, they certainly looked miserable.  Such is the life of a minor celebrity, I guess…

At our table, the lovely meal began with a proffering of bread, grissini and hummus, as well as a finger bowl of olives.  The Everyman enthusiastically consumed the hummus, while I tentatively nibbled an olive.

Now normally I don’t care for olives at all, but I always make a point of trying them when they are presented to me because as I’ve learned many times before, you just never know when your tastes are bound to change.  As it happens, my aversion to olives took a flying leap that evening as I greedily sucked on the briny, meaty flesh.  Even the small black olives that accompanied the massive egg-shaped green ones were appealing to me and before I knew it, the tiny teaser plate of house-cured beauties was gone.

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Battle Of The Bird

As anyone who has read my Taste T.O. wing comparison would be able to gather, I have a bit of a soft spot for the venerable chicken wing.

The hiatus that I’ve taken from consuming them since I wrote that piece was abruptly brought to an end last week, after I pointed out one of the latest in the crop of wing joints to open in Toronto (The Wing Company) to the Everyman.  You see, the Everyman is also quite a fan of the chicken wing, and once he took a gander at the menu, his eyes glazed over with that barely concealed lust that he reserves for daydreaming about his junk food of choice.

Inevitably, it wasn’t long before he was trying to cajole me into ordering delivery, but as fate would have it, The Wing Company (thankfully) only delivers 3 days a week (Thursday through Saturday).  Which meant that he had to wait until Thursday to take them for a test drive, dovetailing nicely (for him) into our weekly “survive the Everyman’s cooking” night of the week, when he is supposed to provide (read: cook) our dinner.

Without having tried them, it seemed that the main appeal of a place like The Wing Company is the customization aspect.  Wings are their metier, thus their focus is on little other than the coatings of said wings and the sides that’ll go with them.  As of this writing, the count of sauces/coatings tops out at 40, which is impressive to say the least.  On the first occasion, I ordered the hot buffalo blue flavour, whilst the Everyman selected the smoked lime tequila sauce, with a side of poutine.  The buffalo blue was tangy and slurpable, but hardly what I would consider hot (probably for the best) and the Everyman’s smoked lime tequila had a well balanced spiciness, but gave off the faintest whiff of curry (another flavour option) leaving me to wonder whether the toss bowls were properly cleansed between uses.  Overall though, the wings themselves were crispy, fat and juicy, and not at all the disappointing nubbins that hardly have any meat to them at all.  The poutine was remarkable for something that arrived by delivery, and while the Everyman adored it, I found the gravy a touch too salty.

On Sunday afternoon, the Everyman had a hankering for poutine in the worst way and wanted to order from The Wing Company again, but a call placed to them shortly after opening confirmed that they do not deliver on Sundays.  Recalling that another wings-only company had opened in the area recently, I set about finding a menu for Wing Shop 366, which is available through Grub Canada.  They sported a remarkably similar concept t0 the one at The Wing Company, though they also dabble in burgers and salads, with a sauce/coating count sitting at a respectable 52 options.  Noting the numerous overlaps between the two, the Everyman was game and hoped for the best.  His wings of choice were a half pound of jalapeno pepper sauced with the balance of the pound done in traditional BBQ, while I opted for a half order of dry parmesan and a mini 2 ounce burger.  To be fair, the burger was well charred and probably would have been more palatable if I’d enjoyed it piping hot, but I found it reminiscent of the way McDonald’s used to taste when I was a wee foodie whose parents threw her 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays in their party room (i.e. made of something resembling real food, but still mediocre).  The wings were exceptionally crispy but repellent, tasting only of the aged oily sludge they were probably fried in.  The parmesan tasted of funky sawdust that likely came from a green cardboard can, while both of the Everyman’s selections were so unappetizing that he didn’t finish either of them.  Their version of poutine was a soggy hodgepodge; the experience on a whole guaranteeing that we’d never order from them again.

As if those weren’t enough wings for one week, last night the Everyman and I ordered in from The Wing Company again, this time opting for traditional BBQ for him, BBQ blue for me, and a sampler of the dry salt and malt vinegar.  Both BBQ’s walked the fine line between sweet, savoury and heat, with the blue cheese adding the appropriate amount of zest, but the salt and malt vinegar stymied us both.  The salt flakes were visible, but no aroma or zing could be detected.  No matter.  After consuming that many wings in the past 7 days, it didn’t hurt either of us to stop well before finishing the combined 3 pound order.  The one curiosity I’ve noticed about The Wing Company is their propensity to send only celery sticks with their meals, which leads me to believe that they must not like carrots.  Not that the tiny bags of veg in any way balance out the excess that is a typical wing dinner, but it’s funny to wonder why, nonetheless.

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I Came, I Saw, I Drank A Boatload: The Gourmet Food And Wine Expo 2009

To The Victor Go The Spoils

Over the weekend, the Everyman and I visited the annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo here in Toronto.

This year I was fortunate enough to have free admission courtesy of my editor Sheryl, so all that stood between us and deliciousness were those pesky strips of sample tickets.

And even though every year we leave the Expo lamenting how there is way more booze than food, every year without fail we also go in with many more sample tickets than we’ll possibly need.  This year, we went in with 100 tickets between the 2 of us, which I could tell was probably too much, but we were both looking forward to hitting up the fancy wine room and trying a few expensive wines like we did last year.

I’d also wanted to see Grant’s presentation on the Food Network Stage which happened to be the first of the day, so we ended up getting there just as the show opened.  The unfortunate thing about arriving so early is that most booths aren’t quite ready for service yet, and since we’d decided not to have breakfast beforehand, we were absolutely famished and starving for options.

In order to push back the lightheadedness, we stopped at the first booth that was open, which in this case happened to be Sassafraz.  The Everyman helped himself to a pulled meat mini sandwich, while I grabbed what they were hyping as the world’s best brownie.  The sandwich was decently textured, but super bland without a generous helping of the various condiments that were available.  The brownie was tasty too, but much too sweet to be considered the best of the best.

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Outstanding In The Field, Out Sitting Under Stars

Before Sunset

It was a night to remember, as close to 100 guests descended on Dennis and Denise Harrison’s Dingo Farms in Bradford West Gwillimbury yesterday evening.

Though the rain initially sought to dampen the spirits of all those who’d come together, after a short burst of showers it was smooth sailing ahead, for what promised to be one magical night.

Pretty Roosters

Under the shade and shelter of a stand of trees overlooking the family’s garden, sparkling wine from Fielding Estates was passed around, a bubbly accompaniment to chef Cutrara’s beef and beet salami, mortadella, chorizo, farinata triangles and pates topped with cornichons and radishes, respectively.  After an hour of dribbles and passed hor d’oeuvres, the farm tour ensued, including a trip to see cows (a personal highlight and favourite of mine) a massive 3 year old Berkshire pig, some very contented and beautiful roosters, concluded with a horse-drawn cart ride around the perimeter of the farm with one of Dennis’ sons and his mother. After the sights were seen and the stories told, it was time to head out to the middle of the field so that everyone might begin the journey towards dinner.

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Summertime, And The Eating Is Easy

There are an awful lot of naysayers out there still, but despite all of them, the Everyman and I continue to enjoy the Summerlicious/Winterlicious promotions.

As I’ve said in the past, in order to maximize the experience, you just have to go into it with the right mindset.  Don’t expect that you are going to have the greatest meal of your whole life, take it for what it is; a cheap way to test out potentially delicious establishments.  Plus, there’s a lot to be said about the customer service one experiences during the ‘liciouses.  If a restaurant still manages to provide outstanding service during such a stressful time, you know that you’ve found a good one.

For the summer version this year, we picked 4 new restaurants to visit, all of which I’d heard good things about and had been wanting to sample for some time.

First off, there was opening Friday at Senses at the Soho Met.

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Hot Damn

I went to the doctor yesterday and found out I now have to arm myself with an epi pen.  Boooooooooo!!!!

But, let me back up a second.  For several years now I’ve been having increasingly severe reactions to various types of shellfish.  Something as innocuous as crab, which I used to catch and eat frequently as a child in British Columbia now causes my throat to swell closed and is completely off limits.  A few years later, lobster came to the party and shouted out an enthusiastic allergic ditto.  While I can still eat shrimp and scallops (for now) without any ill effects, for the most part I try to avoid shellfish altogether, because I just don’t feel like taking the risk.  Plus, the one I really loved was crab, and ironically that’s the one I react to the most.

I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding shellfish too, until an intriguing note from Grant over at The Black Hoof coaxed us into returning.  It’d been almost 5 months since our last visit; since the Everyman accuses the place of giving him protein poisoning pretty much every time we go there, we’ve kind of been avoiding it for the last little bit.  That note this week changed all of that…

You see, months ago when I was in the midst of my ‘nduja experimentation, the first person I went to for advice was Grant.  Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to know anything about it, other than the Len Poli resource I’d already been studying.  In fact, I think I may have been responsible for turning him on to the ‘nduja trend (I’ve never asked; perhaps he also admires Chris Cosentino as I do, and heard of it that way).  At any rate, we both ended up making some, and his email this week was to let me know that he’d finally taken it out of the curing room and was ready to start serving it.  I decided to be a little more hardcore with mine, and instead am curing it for at least 6 months, but possibly as long as 12 depending on its consistency at the halfway point.  Regardless, I stll had a foodie’s interest in testing out Grant’s version, so away to The Hoof we’d go.

When we sat down for dinner, the first thing we both noticed was that the ‘nduja dish on the chalkboard was marked as $1.  We both spent some time speculating over whether it was such a risky dish that they were trying to give it away, or whether he just wanted to get people to order it (incidentally, it turned out to be neither – the 3 just happened to rub off beside it)  After consuming a deluxe-sized platter covered in all of our favourite meats between us (guanciale, cheek rilettes, duck mousse, chorizo, lonzino, clove sausage and more) plus a massive bowl of bread, my ‘nduja arrived in the form of a quenelle, sided by smoked spot prawns, (this is where we connect back to my shellfish allergy) halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil and some nice crusty bread.  When I’d seen that it was served with spot prawns on the menu, I spent a good few minutes debating with the Everyman the likelihood of said prawns sending me into anaphylactic shock; I’d eaten them before, but it had been years.  Obviously the lust for ‘nduja won (and luckily no shock was had).  The prawns were heavenly, lusciously smoky, but not overly so, and provided a cooling burst to combat the ‘nduja’s heat.  The strange thing about ‘nduja is that the first bite (which was tiny) was literally so hot I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but the more I ate it, the more addicted I became to it, because it wasn’t a lingering heat.  It flared up fast, but dissipated quickly.  Captivating.  By the end I was wantonly slathering toasted bread with it and mounding prawns and tomatoes on board.  There’s only one word for food this good; stupendous.

Let’s just say I’m looking forward to throwing open my ‘nduja all the more now.  October just can’t come fast enough over here.

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Nibbles, Noshes And Bites

This weekend the Everyman and I converged on Harbourfront for a little-known Luminato event called 1000 Tastes 0f Toronto.

Chances are good that you might not have heard about it because they didn’t seem to do much PR around the event, again.   Even my attempts to procure the participating vendors list via my neighbour (who conveniently works for Luminato) by way of their PR firm was still sort of an exercise in futility.  I suppose it’s par for the course, though.  I didn’t even hear about last year’s event until it was already over, at which point I cursed their marketing department for not informing me of such potential deliciousness.

I unequivocally love street food festivals, if you remove one thing; the people.  I’m not claustrophobic, but I hate being in large crowds for the slow, lazy, meandering nature of the mob.  I suppose I could just secede and admit that it all boils down to my rampant impatience.  I like being able to get where I need to go in a quick and orderly fashion, that’s all.  At any rate, after a bit of good-natured jostling, we managed to find ourselves with nothing but food stands in front of us and time on our hands; in other words, it was chow time!

First off, I have to say that all the food I tried was first rate, especially given the limitations inherent in cooking in the middle of the street (with the exception of one caterer who I will get to later).  Toronto city council could really learn a thing or two for their A La Cart program from an event like this (coincidentally, a few of them were on hand, though who would bother with them with all the other food around, I’m not certain).

The first complaint I have though, is regarding the setup.  Perhaps in an effort to tie it all into the “brand”, every station had the name of the vendor emblazoned onto a white dinner plate… in tiny, nearly impossible to read font.  While I definitely eat with my eyes first, I still want to know who is feeding me, and with the volume of people on the strip there were moments that you’re wandering from booth to booth and are five people thick from the actual vendor’s stand.  It’d be nice to be able to make a decision without having to elbow your way to the front to see who they are is all.  This is especially annoying for me, because I am so short I can’t usually see over the heads of the crowd to gauge anything, anyway.

Secondly, and somewhat tied into the first, the vendors had no consistent manner of presenting their menu options.  Again, with such large crowds it doesn’t help if I can’t tell what you’re serving unless I jockey for position.  Some stalls employed large chalkboard menus with great success (good idea) while others pasted a piece of paper to the top of their table, ensuring that you had to get to the front of the line first to find out what they were serving (bad idea).  I think the event sponsor could have done a lot to prevent this just by providing each booth with proper signage (like a chalkboard) that they could hang off their sponsor logo-covered patio umbrellas.

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