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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. Also note that the chef left recently. Haven't heard any recent reviews since then.
  2. I think they just feed in the wine name and see what comes up. they just showed me the "results".
  3. Correct - duty on US wines was eliminated, saving us just under 3 cents per bottle. In 1990 the duty on all wines was 3.5cents per litre. After Free Trade the duty on US wines was eliminated over 7 years, starting Jan 1 1991 (when it was lowered for US only to 3.08 cents per litre) and being reduced each year until it was eliminated in early 1998. Oh yes, I should also point out that on Jan 1 1991 the Federal Excise Tax on wine was INCREASED (for all wine importations).
  4. Two separate crossings - Niagara Falls (Rainbow Bridge) and Pearson Airport. To clarify, I've also crossed several times with only 2 bottles and been fine. But as soon as i have an importation in excess of the duty free limit, off they go to the internet. As an aside, note that "duty-free" comment - it ISN'T "GSt-free" - I cam back with a special bottle costing over $1000 and was told I'd have to pay GST on the excess over the allowance. Not sure what that means with respect to LCBO markup. Incidentally, I talked my way through by suggesting it was an 'antique' (over 100 years old) which isn't subject to GST. They didn't agree, but said it was a good argument and let it through - a reward for excellent improvisation.
  5. Either you have a very small wine cellar, or you have been very lucky! In the past year I have been 'pulled aside' 3 times for each wine I declared to be valued (I always declare). Each wine has then been checked on the internet for its retail price to be determined and then duties/markups applied on the 'internet value'. Last time I was charged around $170 PER BOTTLE (on average) - for wines from a deceased relative's cellar for which I didn't have receipts (I'm currently fighting this assessment).
  6. There's none available at the winery. Sold out! Although I hear that a potential export order to New York has fallen through - not sure what will happen to that product). Only place I know is Quebec.
  7. I’m not sure I’m living in the same city as many of the responders! I’ve pretty much tried all the places mentioned and differ dramatically. First the constructive bit: All the liquor/wine stores are government owned (exception for some Ontario ‘winery’ stores). All products are on the LCBO website, so check there for products you might like. The Scrivener Square (Summerhill), just south of Summerhill subway stop, store is probably the easiest destination for Scotch. It’s theoretically an all-brand store, but because of that is a destination and is often sold out of product still available elsewhere. The LCBO website also links all products to locations (but assume that if it’s 3 bottles or less they’re all gone – inventory reconciliation only happens in Jan/Feb). If you’re from Vancouver, avoid all seafood – you’ll just be disappointed! OK I’ll except Chiado as they have fish you don’t have anywhere else, but it’s de-luxe dining. Expensive (and nowhere near downtown). JK Winebar gets raves – but why? Excellent wine list, yes – maybe the best in town. But the food aromas that waft from the open kitchen have destroyed several meals for me. I now only go for lunch, which is less crowded and less liable to interference from other peoples’ dishes. Perigee – 3 visits – two disastrous and one very good. All 3 visits people were served dishes containing ingredients that they were averse/allergic to! Because the kitchen serves your dishes as a mystery, how do you match wine? Their wine choices have ALWAYS been hit or miss – mostly miss! And the other couple who were there on the ‘successful’ night went back without us. They reported it as the worst meal/service for years and are never going back! (We tightly choreographed the successful meal, even rejecting some of the potential wine matches). It’s also the most expensive ‘set meal+ wine’ restaurant in Toronto. Thuet CAN be great – would like it if it was consistent. His bread is the best in Toronto. Canoe, Fifth, Bymark, Thuet, Truffles, Splendido, One, Lai Wah Heen are all ‘safe but relatively unexciting’ – corporate, hotel-style, suits! Priced to match. If you go to one of these, make it Splendido. Mothers Dumplings is OK, but has gone downhill (I think they’re now wholesaling to other restaurants). I prefer Traditional Chinese Buns (536 Dundas West) 3-5 minutes walk from Mother’s. Both are downstairs home-made owner run places. Because they serve 6 or 8 (or more) items to a serving, both are best enjoyed in a group – except both places are tiny! Via Allegro is in the suburbs! I don’t get it! Large portions of pretty good food (but not exceptional) served in a family roadhouse atmosphere (no tablecloths). Superb winelist – except prices to match – although if you’re a real Italian enthusiast, you might be able to pick off a bargain. Colborne Lane is indeed a little different (and not even a 10 minute walk). It’s the chef’s best effort to date, but is still trying to find its place. I think its worth the experiment – style is “small plates” so you can try different things. Hip crowd – wear black. I hear it’s undergoing ownership changes right now but don’t know the details. Lee (Susur Lee’s “small plates” operation) might also appeal – very noisy and crowded. A streetcar ride along King St from your hotel. A 10-15 minute walk to Kultura on King East. More “small plates” and a very good wine list by the glass (not as extensive as JKWB but pretty good). And if the weather’s fine, drop by Solferino (on Wellington East – you’ll walk right past it on your way to JKWB) for a gelato – one of the better places in Toronto. I’ll also add Globe Bistro for anyone seeking a more reasonably priced alternative. Very close to Broadview subway stop. Toronto’s strength is in its ‘ethnic’ cuisine (I know that sounds demeaning, but it’s not meant to be). Choose a cuisine and we’ll help you find the better/best. Nearly all the above are conventional business traveller places.
  8. And at first glance many of the items in the print version have already been offered online! If there's anything you want, first check the 'Special Offers' section of the Vintages website (especially the email offer). Presumably you can order as many as you want from the original offer! There's actually nothing new that I want in this paper version (and a few I already have).
  9. estufarian


    Aha - that's why I had to get a new passport. All those trips to Northern Pakistan and Iran were raising suspicions (and the food wasn't that great there either). But my secret liquor provider is still around. Strangely, it's the alcohol that seems to bother CSIS the most. When returning to Canada I'm always searched for wine (they examine every bottle, often X-ray them, and even take dust samples and put them in some machine (I wish I was joking)) - but no-one seems to care about why I was travelling in those areas. Now - if you really want to upset the 'authorities' then try bringing in some butter. Last time, they confiscated it; placed the 500gms in a plastic garbage bag; placed that in a large plastic container on wheels and took it off to be immediately incinerated (again I'm not joking). This same butter (Italian) is sold in fine stores in the USA andI still have no explanation of why this wasn't permitted (Agriculture Canada's own website shows that there are no 'warnings' for dairy products from Italy).
  10. Last time I spoke to Sho Ozawa (a couple of months back) he hadn't had any for a long time and was having difficulty sourcing it from Japan. Also heard this week that a steak restaurant in TO had just had an order fall through. Thuet Atelier "claims" to have it but "temporarily out of stock". Butcher Shoppe had the US version (from Colorado) a week ago, but call it Kobe beef (which it isn't).
  11. Isn't Qzina wholesale only? I recall they only open for retail for a couple of weeks around Christmas.
  12. Visited Montreal and, of course, ate at both Toque and Au Pied du Cochon. Was "slightly" disappointed with both - they just didn't seem to zing although both were certainly good. The tasting menu at Toque was similar to that described above. I rather enjoyed the scallops with strawberries. Main was also the duck breast (with raspberries). The dessert was a delight for the eyes - although the taste didn't fully match. Two dishes served looked identical - a 'cigar cube' with "cream" at both ends. One turned out to be white chocolate ends stuffed with local raspberries and the other was mascarpone surrounding local strawberies. Looked identical but different dishes. The raspberries were indeed excellent - but appeared in 4 of the tasting dishes - either as an ingredient or a garnish. Just too many - yes, include local ingredients as available - but please don't overdo it. The salad course with dried sliced mushrooms (and raspberries!) was also excellent. But overall we wanted more. The wine selections were again OK - but nothing exciting. Overall impression was of a kitchen playing it safe - they know what they're doing - and it's all good but somehow isn't memorable. Can't compare it to anything else in Montreal - but, for example, we were wowed the following day by the flavours at Devi - totally different style (of course) but a level of food excitement - in particular the crab dish (with black peppers, red(chile) peppers and coconut milk to bind it together) was truly memorable.
  13. Trucks aren't the issue - almost anything is theoretically available from a truck - we could have all these under the previous legislation, because they have 'proper' cooking facilities. It's the sidewalk vendors that are affected.
  14. Umm - where in Toronto can you get that? Several of the items are NOT ALLOWED currently in TO. For example onions were removed several years ago "for health reasons". I wish it were non-news - the fact that this thread is getting more action than most Toronto threads makes it news!
  15. I didn't take photos - pity since some dishes were indeed works of art. But two recent visits there have convinced me that this is indeed one of the gems of Toronto. No sushi, only 1 sashimi course; but all the dishes are unquestionably Japanese with superb flavours and textures. Even the richest (the tongue) is still elegant - and is served with bread from Thuet bakery (whatever one thinks of Thuet's restaurant, I don't believe anyone will argue with the quality of his bread). And there's nothing else like this in TO (OK - if you go to Hashimoto, out past the airport, it's close in style - but not in elegance). Just leapt into my Top 10 in TO. Didn't take notes as was dining with friends both times - but definitely will next time.
  16. When I was there a few months ago, Cinc Sentits was closed Monday evening, but OPEN for Monday lunch.
  17. Salad king is the cheap student hangout version - shared tables. Upstairs is Linda - more elegant - dining (as opposed to eating) - much more sophisticated food and still within your price range.
  18. Can I push this thread back to the top? (I guess I have). I'm off to Albuquerque at the end of June and will probably spend a day in Santa Fe. Any updates or new recommendations welcomed.
  19. If it's Mom - bite the bullet and do Senhor Antonio. Great service, excellent food and very presentable. On the other hand, if she 'thinks young' try Kultura. Very good food, great winelist and it has that certain buzz (wheras Senhor Antonio is old world). JK Winebar and Coca are too casual. Lee and Cava are too noisy. Or possibly Colborne Lane if she wants cutting edge (may be possible on a Tuesday).
  20. According to the AGCO website there are over 1050 BYOW establishments in Ontario - but they don't seem to have a list (at least a published one). And certainly I'm aware of places that serve "tea" - Chinese restaurants that serve liquor in teapots. But assuming we restrict ourselves to legal offerings, then any place that has a liquor licence only has to apply for the BYOW endorsement - there's no fee. Yet relatively few places have bothered. Indeed we have only ourselves to blame if we go to the places that don't offer this. Hence my reluctance to go to Lai Wah Heen (except for lunch), while I'll gladly pay the $40 at Splendido or Susur, and patronize Czehoski, Fat Cat and Mimosa. Regrettably, some of the no-, or low- corkage places serve inedible food, so my choices are limited. While I would obviously prefer lower corkage fees, do you really think $20-40 (typically) is unreasonable? Most restaurants charge a minimum double retail - up to 5 times at Lai Toh Heen and Cava (I'm sure there are similar examples, but those are two I've experienced personally), so it's not difficult to reach a $40 built-in markup.
  21. When I was there, I had: Pazo de Señorans Seleccion de Añada 2002 Albariño from the Rias Baixas Probably the most expensive wine on their list, but it's outstanding. Even held up to the meat courses. I recall around €40. NOTE: The 'seleccion de Anada' part is important - it denotes their "reserve" wine. The 'regular' version is still good, but lacks some weight.
  22. Here's my review from where we went (and it's open Sunday for lunch). "By contrast, the next day we ate a late lunch (for us, early for Spain) between Can Fabes and Girona that was all excitement. If people are doing the Can Fabes/El Bulli trip (by car), take a note of this place. In Riudarenes the La Brasa restaurant (in the La Brasa Hotel) looks dingy from the outside, more like a beer hall than a restaurant. But inside it’s pure trattoria, chequered tablecloths and all, serving Cuina Catalana (and proud of it). They’re also proud of their wine list – and their own wine (about 5€ a litre). And the place is packed, so go early (by Spanish standards). A multilingual (sort of) menu, with generous portions and cheerful service. The meal was solid – both the half rabbit and braised pig cheeks were excellent. One of the dessert choices was a cheese plate – which came with 9 different Spanish cheeses. And the check (for two, including wine) was less than double what we were charged for bread and water at Can Fabes." Michelin lists it as a Bib Gourmand in the current edition.
  23. I'd allow more than that - it's doable but you'd really have to watch the pennies. With some wine it will easily be over $100 per person. And Lai Wah Heen really is the best - although the couple of times I've tried to do it "cheap" (e.g seasonlicious) I've been disappointed. To really appreciate it you neeed to go outside 'regular' Chinese cuisine.
  24. All of Lee, JK Winebar, George, Coca, Kultura and Colborne Lane serve 'small dish' menus. The challenge is that all randomly serve the dishes - you can't specify the order! As a 'guide' (and I'll go alphabetically): Coca: cheaper, funkier, starving artist crowd Colborne Lane: reservations essential (go early) complex food, "in-crowd" George: middle-of-road, great interior patio JK Winebar: 'foodies choice' - but I'm not as impressed. No reservations taken. More casual. Kultura: Reservations essential, trendy crowd, but tables well-spaced. IMO best combinations of wine/food. Lee: Noisy. Reservations preferable. Best fries! I think Coca and JK Winebar are both open Sundays and Mondays, and Kultura also Mondays. Not sure about the others.
  25. Let’s get realistic here. Susur, Splendido, Canoe and Perigee are outside your price range. With one glass of wine, Colborne Lane is doable and is a good option, but it won’t be a life-changing experience. It’s good, but still a work in progress. Another alternative is Kultura – very good food (appetizer size portions) and very good selection of wines by the glass. JK (Jamie Kennedy) Winebar is a realistic alternative – similarly priced. But I think a notch below the others I’ve mentioned. Or for slightly less, Coca (on Queeen Street west), another tapas bar. For $10-20 you probably need to get ‘just outside’ the downtown area. Rashnaa has excellent Sri Lankan food and New York Subway (also on Queen west) – which doesn’t sell subs is a great place for wraps. For a ‘splurge lunch’ also consider Lai Wah Heen (in the Metropolitan hotel – Downtown, not SoHo). I’ve yet to have better dim sum anywhere in the world – but the price reflects the quality.
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