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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. If you want something not (easily) available in NY I suggest the following: Susur - idiosyncratic, potentially genius and original. Wine list currently in transition due to staff changes. BUT, service is erratic; food is not wine-friendly and his 'backwards tasting menu' (main course first, followed by lighter dishes) is just weird. Nevertheless the food is worth a visit. Chiado - very sophisticated Portuguese food. Wine list almost exclusively portuguese (several hundred selections). Probably the best Portuguese food in North America - possibly anywhere. And the fish is excellent (a rarity in Toronto). Lai Wah Heen (in the Metropolitan hotel). Sophisticated Cantonese Food with a modern twist. One of the finest 'Chinese' restaurants in North America. Ingredients such as Emu and Alligator are sometimes featured. Wine list almost non-existent. All of the above are something I haven't found in NY (or North America). they may not be the 'best' - but most of the others mentioned in 'best of' lists for Toronto have similar venues in NY. All are 10-20 minute cab rides from your hotel. Canoe is part of a chain (admittedly the crown jewel) and not a favourite of mine, so I haven't been recently. I checked with others and their response: 'it's got a great view' was the most common! Opus is definitely New York in style - but you can get that in NY!
  2. Not sure when you're going, but my research identified Whampoa Club as my choice in Shanghai and I'll be there on 19 April. PM me for a quick response and I'll organize a proper post/review when I return.
  3. Although this reply sounds a bit anal at first, please persevere! Magret of duck comes ONLY from the Moulard duck, which is the one that is used to produce duck foie gras (and in North America is the duck raised in Quebec and Hudson Valley). It is fairly large and almost always available at the Sobey's on St Clair east of Yonge (typically priced at $12-15 per breast). It is particularly 'fatty' and hence flavourful. Some North American producers have appropriated the 'magret' name for Muscovy duck - the duck used to produce Sonoma Foie Gras. These are a smaller variety, and I'm not sure I've had the duck breast from these (although I haven't bought at Pusateri the price mentioned seems 'low' unless the breast is small). At most Chinese stores you get the Pekin duck - the duck served at most restaurants (in Toronto at least) and there is a huge difference in flavour and, in my experience, texture. The Pekin version has not been raised on a diet designed to increase the fat content and I believe (haven't been able to fact check) that a Pekin duck breast is lower in fat than a typical chicken. So my point is not the definition of magret as such, but the implication that a 'correctly named' magret would usually be much more tasty than a 'non-magret' breast. So all duck breasts are not created equal! [Edited to correct the original quote which got mangled]
  4. There's a lot of competition - and it's organised! Fruit Wines of Ontario
  5. Does anybody seriously believe this will happen? Every time a train goes by the bottles in the LCBO store are shaken and create so much noise that conversation is difficult. If the restaurant is that close to the tracks I can foresee multiple accidents with plates, glasses, wines etc. I'd like to believe it, but the price point in that area is much lower than one would expect from its proximity to Rosedale (just look at the surviving places there) and road access is difficult - even more so with the proposed St Clair streetcar right-of-way. Or do the high-rollers take the subway?
  6. Oops. Hadn't tried it when I posted - my comments were based on previous samples. Just used the Ocelli butter I purchased at Schefflers and it's rancid!!!!! The expiry date is 31.03.06 so avoid this batch!
  7. Yeah! Ocelli butter purchased today at Schefflers. VERY expensive by world standards, but if you break it down to cost/serving then worth the extra to have it just by itself on a warm crusty gread. $5.99 for 125 gm or $9.99 for 250 gm (about double price I paid in UK (at Waitrose). Treat yourself. You deserve it.
  8. I think the Italian butter at Schefflers is from Beppino Occelli, I've picked some up there before. ← I'm not surprised your butter got confiscated - I thought there was a blanket prohibition on bringing in most foodstuffs not in a can or bottle. Don't you have to sign or check off something to that effect on the customs clearance form? I wonder if it has any actual regulatory justification or whether it's just policy. Interesting that they couldn't point you to any justification for taking your superior dairy goods. Cheers, Geoff Ruby ← Yes, it was Occelli that was confiscated. Now I have a much better reason to object! I have no problem with 'potentially harmful' foodstuffs being confiscated/illegal. I have a great problem with arbitrary decisions by people who 'should' be experts who 'may' be making decisions that are not supported by legislation. Under GATT (which Canada is a party to) the only 'legal' impediments are prescribed - an oversimplification is that only tariffs can be applied, not quotas or other methods of restricting entry (I'm excluding harmful products from the discussion). And even if there are 'permissible' restrictions e.g. labelling requirements, these are only applicable for commercial quantities - you can sign a waiver as an individual. However, Ontario (not a signatory as it is not a 'country') has all sorts of restrictions which 'seem' only to protect the industry from competition - hence we can't get a high fat milk. Neither can Ontario farmers upgrade the quality by using higher quality breed or rearing methods as they must sell the product to the Marketing Board (if they have a quota) where it will be mixed in with all the rest i.e. no 'single cow' butters, creams or milks. As the Feds have signed International agreements, I want to see the legislation supporting the confiscation of my butter - and they haven't (yet) provided me with anything. In fact they were downright hostile when I asked for something - the officer walked away, didn't return, and the customs officers refused to allow me to leave the customs desk to go to the Agriculture Canada office. I was 'ordered' to stay at the customs desk until an Agriculture Canada officer arrived (which nobody ever did). I was instead given a copy of a 'bulletin' which had a non-applicable date and even that said that quantities under 20 Kg were exempt. I only left after they made a conspicuous show of tying up the garbage bag it was placed in and carted it off to 'be destroyed'. Please don't get me wrong - we need examination and protection at our borders. What we don't need are trampling of anybody's rights and/or entitlements. (Yes, I'm mad, if you haven't noticed)!
  9. I saw them this wek at Bruno's. King Cole brand vacuum packed. The 'peppered smoked' were on sale - I think at around $7.99 lb. The 'reguler smoked' were a little more - around $9.99 lb if I recall correctly. These were all unsliced and appeared to be half breasts.
  10. The tasting menu at Splendido with wine is $170 before tax and tip. Seems to me that's around $230 per person total. I get that you don't like Lobby - you've impugned the owners and the Toronto Star, as well as the food. But let's concentrate on reviewing the food, wine and service. And also, everybody please get the facts straight on the chef. He's Canadian (nothing wrong with that) NOT Spanish (although strangely very little info on where he trained). But I hope to judge him on his merits when I try Lobby. And that will be early-midweek sometime in the dining area, not the bar where the food will be long out of the kitchen before it reaches the customer.
  11. estufarian


    Let's get this 'biggest purchaser' myth out of the way once and for all! There's a chance it's in the top 10, but, for example, some of the supermarkets in UK outsell (or outbuy, whatever) the LCBO by themselves. Specifically both Tesco and Sainsbury are larger retailers. And that doesn't even consider Germany, France and a multitude of other countries. Also LCBO isn't the biggest in Canada even. The SAQ outsells the LCBO (but, to be fair, the LCBO sells more 'booze' than SAQ, but the SAQ has a clear lead in wine, making it bigger overall). As for stores: Summerhill is an all-brand store, so on paper it has the best selection in Toronto. However, it is now so popular that many selections are sold out quickly so actual selections may vary and Queens Quay or Bayview could have a wider selection at any point in time. But Summerhill certainly is the largest in terms of size and total inventory - and certainly has knowledgeable staff. So if you want to find 80 facings of Yellowtail, that's the place to go! Of course, if the LCBO ever got its act together to show anything approaching a 'real' inventory on its website then we could really find the wines we're looking for. And Laird & McRae is one of the worst for actually being able to find the stock. I've now given up both calling and visiting a store that doesn't know its stock when you call; or can't find it when you visit after confirming that they have it; or actually have it after denying it exists. And when will the LCBO get its act together on the variously named Catalogues (Classics etc) and stock. I've been turned down NUMEROUS times for wines, only to have them turn up on the shelf at Summerhill and showing 'Sold Out' on the website. The most egregious case recently was when they called me to say I was unsuccessful in the "Catalogue lottery" already having seen it on the shelf at Summerhill prior to the call! And an almost final point - I'm told by someone in the trade that the number of listings in Alberta for wine is more than double that in Ontario. Of course, they're not all available at any one store as the stores are privately owned, but as the Alberta government controls the listing process it is possible to locate them. And, as I'm on a roll and rant here, why does a modern retailer apply the same product code to different vintages of a wine??? Yes the LCBO has improved - but there's still plenty of opportunity to improve further.
  12. Basically - forget it. It's getting even worse now. Importers are having their 'samples' assessed at "true" values rather than sample prices. The 'diplomatic route' has been clamped down on. And at each of my last crossings of the border (one by car, one by plane) I was delayed for several hours while the agent searched the internet for prices - and came up with ridiculous values (which I'm now appealing). My only option was to not pay and have the wine destroyed (example a wine now out-of-stock at LCBO where it retailed for $36 was assessed a value of $160US per bottle and charges of about 70% applied - I only paid as this was so clear-cut that I'm confident I'll get a refund). Any lawyers around who can help with this? And I know several agents - none of whom are prepared to risk attempting to 'fool' the ALGO or LCBO - the fines are huge. Remember that US retail includes a mark-up so that our importers (such as Rogers) are paying wholesale and paying all government charges.
  13. I 've heard from a couple of sources that Chris McDonald will be reopening his former 'home' at Delisle Court (once also called Delisle) on Yonge just north of St Clair. he will be executive chef rather than being there 80 hours a week and indeed it will be back to a Bistro style. What odds that Didier will survive this competition?
  14. Hmm - where is there an abandoned CP rail bridge??? This line is still used regularly ( I know, I can feel it). But if the line is abandoned my property value should rise significantly! Sounds like a Pie In The Sky idea to me.
  15. Absolutely! Ghandi is great. But for some reason I still end up at New York Subway (same ownership and a block east) who also serve great wraps. Again spicing is 'to taste' with the hot being REALLY hot. And NY Subway is even cheaper!
  16. When in Vancouver PM me. I would highly recommend "C", Vij's, Chambar, Imperial Seafood (dim sum) , Tojo's (sushi) , Aurora Bistro (Canadian cuisine) and Lumiere (Chef Rob Feenie - Iron Chef Killer). Cheers, Stephen Vancouver ← I'll add the same offer - before coming to Toronto PM me. Was in Vancouver last year for a wedding and endorse 'C'. If you like Indian food - 'London style' pass on Vij - it's 'western' food with Indian spices, not Indian food. And Lumiere seems to have hit a bad patch. In Toronto, best restaurant experience is Splendido, best chef is Susur. But eating 'ethnic' is the way to go. And eat the seafood in Vancouver, not Toronto!
  17. Just bumping this one up. It seems to have disappeared from the radar screens. Would have done this sooner (with details) but I'm still having difficulty posting to eGullet (although this is the second time in a week I've used the same 'backdoor'). Suffice it to say that I've now been 5 times in 5 months and all visits have been worthwhile. Recommend you just ask for the chef to 'feed me' and see what you get.
  18. I'm not sure I'll be helping here as I find Bombay Bhel to be run-of-the-mill. Also find Indian Rice Factory expensive for what you get. Also not overly impressed with Tandoori House - but buffet lunch is cheap and filling. My regular is Trimurti on Queen st - especially for the cashew paste dishes which are not common elsewhere. And a killer Onion Bhajia too. I also find their breads exceptional (including the stufed ones). But, given that I don't really enjoy those recommended above, you'll probably not be too interested in the one I do like!
  19. I sort of agree. Also went twice and it's hard to criticize anything specific - yet the overall experience still seems lacking. The food is almost perfect, the service is mostly correct. Yet there's a 'Stepford' feel to the place. It lacks excitement. Almost like being in a building where you're supposed to be awed yet a little dreamlike. Both times I felt that somehow I was missing the awesome experience I'd hoped for. And, indeed, both times the adjacent table was certainly served dishes that didn't appear on my menu. I felt somehow excluded from being part of the inner sanctum. Absolutely worth a visit, but I'm just as interested in reading your other reviews - both Danko (obviously much more downscale) and Manresa still manage to generate excitement and, for me, were a more satisfying experience.
  20. I emailed you when you originally posted (EGullet fails to recognise me when I attempt to sign in, and hasn't responded to my emails). But I seem to have entered via the back door this time and can respond here. The code is: 2206.00.50.90 for 'wine' or 2204.21.10.92 for 'red wine' But as mentioned above - all ports of entry know these codes and they apply across the board (technically less for US wines under FTA, but the difference is minimal - under 1 cent per litre).
  21. As you will see I have been a member here for almost 3 years and this is (I think) only the second time I’ve mentioned Winetasters Society (both times to declare the conflict) so I think I probably can do the commercial without seeming self-serving. My name (Estufarian) is a riff on the traditional process for making Madeira wine – known as ‘estufa’ in Portuguese. I also run a Madeira tasting group (known as the Estufarians) as well as assist in a few other wine groups, particularly those involving Port. I’m also a Director of Winetasters Society of Toronto (one of nine directors). As such I come to this board from the wine side, rather than the food. My partner (who rarely posts on other food-related sites – and never here) is sometimes referred to as AmuseGirl – and is far more knowledgeable on food than I am. Winetasters Society of Toronto meets most months, usually on the second Wednesday and most tastings are formal sit-down single-blind (which means the wines are revealed in a list, but you do not know which wine is in which glass). There is almost always a guest speaker who introduces the wines as a theme then comments on the wines after tasting. The group votes on which wines they prefer overall BEFORE the identities are revealed. This format has been in effect for over 25 years as a non-profit organization. A special ‘New Members’ table is featured to assist newer members in assimilating. Tastings always have a theme – the Directors choose the theme and the wines are acquired to match the theme – this sometimes takes many years if, for example, a vertical tasting is planned. The tastings are charged to members based on original wine cost (guests will pay a higher fee, usually based on market price). There are also dinners and seminars ‘from time-to-time’ – depending on availability of any or all of speakers, organizers and destinations. In my opinion the group is best for people who want to consolidate their interest in wine rather than an absolute beginner. But we’re not always that formal. The best example is the Casa Loma event (so mark your calendars for Dec 13, 2006 – the second Wednesday). This is a chance for our members to relax and enjoy wine with friends (guests are permitted at all events if space permits). The admission price this year was $70 for members and $80 for guests, which includes 40 tickets exchangeable for wine, and a selection of cold finger foods. We find that lower ‘priced’ wines don’t move very quickly and the 4-6 ticket wines (corresponding to a wine cost of around $60-$100 per bottle) tend to be the most popular. The highest # of tickets required is a self-imposed 15 (this year only one – the 1970 Mouton-Rothschild). We always have a ‘special’ wine – usually a Madeira or Port (not surprising given that I’m on the buying sub-committee) for an additional fee (this year $20 to try the 1905 madeira, next year an 1806 madeira at higher cost). Last year about 120 different wines were available for tasting and it was probably more this year as attendance was higher. Most people consume about 50-60% of a bottle equivalent over the course of the 3-hour event. This is a tasting event and we do ration servings. We take great care to ensure that consumption is ‘reasonable’ and rarely (if ever) have any problems with over-consumption. In response to the ‘weekend’ query, we have found little interest in weekend functions so no longer schedule them, although we do plan a Friday evening event at Southbrook winery towards the end of June. This will be a BYOW event (but with a structure and full sit-down dinner) – more details eventually at the Winetasters website. If you are interested, please see the Winetasters website. I find it VERY difficult to post on eGullet now as my firewall will not let me access this board anymore (other than read only – incidentally I don’t have that problem with any other food or wine board) and my emails to eGullet attempting to resolve this have gone unanswered (my firewall insists it hasn’t blocked any emails this year). So I have to disable the firewall to post and am reluctant to do this because of the risks that entails.
  22. OK Admission time. I was an organizer of the event. Most feedback was very positive - over 350 attendees, and the only criticisms I heard were the lineups for food and that the bread ran out too early meaning you had to eat the smoked turkey etc on crackers. But the wines were deemed 'best ever'. Something for everybody. Best wine (consensus) - the 1970 Castillo Ygay from Marques de Murietta. But lots of raves for the 55 Ch. Canon, the 45 Ferreira Port, the 70 Mouton-Rothschild, the 95 Crozes Hermitage from Graillot, 90 Les Forts de Latour, 55 Pommard, 89 Scharzhofberger Auslese from Egon Muller, 90 Corton Charlemagne, 97 Ornellaia and the 60 Croft and 70 Talor ports. Surprisingly there was bottle variation on the Madeira (only bottled 5 yrs ago) - but everyone thought it well worth the money.
  23. I'm one of the Directors of Winetasters Society of Toronto (and thanks Tom for your recommendation). We just don't get a turnout on weekends (we've tried several times), so no likelihood of change there (exception: if we get a REALLY interesting speaker from out-of-town, then we have held events outside our 'normal' schedule - which is 2nd Wednesday each month). Almost the only exception is our summer event 'Vinalia' held on a Friday night in June (3rd Friday) at Southbrook Winery. And, indeed the Xmas at Casa Loma (2nd Wed in December) is usually rated our finest event (immodestly maybe the finest event in Toronto). I'm also 'linked' to most of the other Wine Clubs in Toronto, so if anybody wants to connect to any of them, just PM me. The main two 'independent' groups are Toronto Vintners Club, and Winetasters Society of Toronto (both over 25 years organising themed tastings from around the world). But there are also 'dedicated' groups tasting Australian, South African, Spanish, Ontario, Portuguese, Port, Madeira etc etc (haven't deliberately excluded anyone). The best source for all tastings is Michael Vaughan's Vintage Assessments Vintage Assessments some parts of this site are subscription only, but I've been able to get in through Google links on occasion. And, of course, I feel I have to plug my own Winetasters Winetasters Most of these clubs allow visitors/guests at slightly higher rates, so that you can see what you're getting.
  24. Isn't her experience at a steakhouse? Not sure how transferable that experience will be. Any reason for the "one of the best in the city" when it comes to matching foods (other than steak) with wine? NOTE: On rereading this it seems as if I might be criticizing - this isn't my intent; I have no knowledge of her experience other than with steak.
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