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    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. I've been to Grace twice, once for a pre-opening tasting dinner for media, and once for a regular meal. Fantastic both times. Here's an article my wife wrote about it: http://www.tasteto.com/2008/05/27/comfort-and-grace/
  2. Well... it depends on how you define "best". I would guess that we may have the highest number of bars serving cask ale in North America (although ironically enough, beerbistro isn't one of them). But the number of local/Ontario breweries making cask ales on a regular basis is quite low. Off the top of my head, there's Durham (who make C'est What's house beers along with their own brands), Wellington, Black Oak, Scotch-Irish, Granite and F&M. And the majority of the bars that have handpumps tend to pour either Durham and Wellington. So when it comes to variety, I think we're lacking somewhat. That being said, it's getting better. The appearance of several casks of Fuller's from the UK at special events this year was nice to see, and Volo's annual Cask Days event has gotten a lot of local breweries to do some interesting cask one-offs, so hopefully more of them will start doing casks more often.
  3. Well, the event was planned for weeks before the new legislation went through. So the items being served were not specifically things that will be allowed under the new rules, just things that the chefs consider to be good examples of what could be served as street food. Personally, I think a couple of the things being served would probably be a bit too "gourmet" to be pulled off as street food. For example, the Rubino's dish tasted great, but I really can't imagine a street vendor in Toronto selling chilled soup with a skewer of scallops and shrimp served in a small hollowed out melon. But most of what was on offer - from empanadas to crepes to kebobs to veg curry - would quite easily be sold on the street.
  4. Here's a brief review of the Street Treats fair that I posted to Chowhound earlier this afternoon: ----- Just got back to the office a few minutes ago from the Street Treats event, and I gotta say that I'm glad I work close to City Hall and showed up early (11:30), 'cause by 12:00, it was INSANE! First the lines were short, then they got longer (like, 100 people or more at some booths), then the lines just became this mass of people who probably didn't even know or care what line they were in, they just hoped they could get some food, ANY food, before it ran out. Speaking of which - Colborne Lane ran out of their cereal before 12:00 even rolled around, and Cava ran out of tripe by 12:20, just when I was about to get some as my final dish. Damn! I'm sure a lot of other booths have run out by now, or will be soon. Here's what the wife and I did manage to get and eat before everyone in Toronto descended on the place: - Asparagus Quiche & Flamishe (leek quiche) from Didier - Tsukune (grilled minced chicken balls on a stick) & Grilled Tofu from Izakaya - 5 Spiced Chinese Melon Soup with Curried Shellfish from Rain - Curried Vegetables with Rice Hopper & Blueberry Agua Fresca from Jamie Kennedy The curry and soup were our faves, but the other stuff was pretty good as well. We were hoping to get a crepe at the Viva/Kali's booth for dessert, but the crowd was just getting out of hand, so we hit the road by 12:30. Hope everyone else who made it down there was able to get something to eat! ----- My wife posted her own write-up and some photos to our website Taste T.O. - http://www.tasteto.com/2007/07/13/sweet-tr...-on-the-street/
  5. beerbistro doesn't have cask beer, though, except for at special events. Click here for an article I wrote on cask beer for the local food & drink website Gremolata last October in advance of Volo's Cask Ale Festival. A list of bars that serve cask ale appears at the end of the article. It's missing Rhino (Queen west of Dufferin) and Betty's (King near Sherbourne), both of which added casks to their line-up since the article was written. Also, I believe that the Duke of Kent may no longer have a handpump.
  6. Cooked onions were given the kibosh (along with cheese & mayo, I believe), but I'm pretty sure raw chopped onions are still a condiment at most carts.
  7. I don't think there's anything "wrong" with hot dogs & sausages per se, Malcom (although I'm not as much of a fan of them as you, it appears). It's just that having them be the only option for a quick, cheap bite on the street is not a great situation. And there's also the whole issue of the complete ridiculousness of the legislation as it previously stood. What possible justification did the government have to limit street food vendors to selling hot dogs & sausages? The new legislation, while still a bit too far on the nanny state side of things in some respects, is much more palatable to me (no pun intended). As for the availability of "diverse, cheap & good food anywhere in Toronto" - I'll agree with the spirit of what you're saying, but not necessarily the "anywhere" part of it. Sure, there are neighbourhoods with great little joints serving roti or bánh mì or other relatively cheap street friendly food. But there are other areas - esp. those popular with tourists - with a complete dearth of such places. Perhaps the importance of this change is being blown a little out of proportion. But on the whole, I think it's generally a positive development for Toronto's food scene.
  8. Here's some great and somewhat unexpected news: Today, the provincial government announced changes to the "hot dogs & sausages only" street cart legislation which will be going into effect on August 1st. Here's the press release: ----- TORONTO – The McGuinty government is giving municipalities the option to expand the types of food street vendors can sell to give Ontarians more interesting, healthy and safe food choices, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today. “Ontarians are at our best when we embrace the diversity of our people and our culture,” said Smitherman. “By expanding street menus, we are making it possible for our food options to reflect our multiculturalism. We are also helping a new group of entrepreneurs showcase their culture’s culinary contribution to their cities.” The government has amended the Food Premises Regulation (O. Regulation 562) to allow expanded menu options for street food vendors that will take effect on August 1, 2007: * Pre-prepared, pre-packaged foods such as salads, fruits and baked goods; * Pre-cooked foods that are reheated on site such as samosas, pizzas, burritos hamburgers and hot dogs; * Lower-risk foods such as orange juice, corn on the cob, whole fruit and non-dairy smoothies; * Local Medical Officers of Health will also have the discretion to approve additional menu items if they are satisfied that safeguards are in place to protect the public. “These new options will help street food vendors be more creative in their menu offerings, “said Susur Lee, internationally renowned chef and author. “It will put Ontario on the culinary map by showcasing our province’s great talent and diversity.” Municipalities will still be responsible for determining licensing requirements, which includes menus and locations. Like other food premises, the food vending carts will be subject to food safety inspections. This type of regulation puts Ontario at the forefront of other Canadian jurisdictions. Enabling expanded menus is likely to create opportunities for small businesses and have a positive impact on tourism. Outside Canada, many large cities such as New York and Washington D.C. already have policies in place that support diverse street food. Today’s initiative is part of the McGuinty government’s plan for innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three priorities – keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing better access to doctors and nurses. ----- It would've been nicer timing if they'd held off the announcement until the Toronto Street Treats Festival at City Hall this coming Friday, but regardless of that, this is fantastic news!
  9. I haven't had a chance to check out the Spice Room yet, but my wife and I had lunch at Manyata a few weeks ago, and if the food there was any indication, Spice Room should be fantastic. You can see my wife's review of our visit here.
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