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Duck salad inside red box

Meet the $45 Takeout Meal That Comes in a Jewellery Box

The pandemic is changing habits — and we’re all embracing takeout like never before. While fast-food chains were always set up for takeout, other restaurants had to quickly adapt their business model to pay the bills. Fine-dining restaurants that previously relied on dine-in patrons are forced to now reimagine their food to offer an upscale dining experience to-go.

Hana in Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood offers one the best modern Kyō-kaiseki (Kyoto-style cuisine) dining experiences in the city. Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa’s food does a dance between modern and traditional — and pre-COVID, his preparation and presentation of each dish was so meticulous. Clearly, I had to see if the takeout experience shared the same sentiment. I opted for the duck salad, which costs $45. Expensive compared to fast-food takeout, but quite on par in terms of fine-dining prices.

Duck salad inside red box

First Looks

Let’s start with the packaging. The duck salad comes in a glistening, cherry-coloured, faux mahogany keepsake box from Japan, which adds an instant sophistication to the experience. From afar, you wouldn’t believe it’s not real wood. Once the lid is removed, your eyes are drawn to the variety. The dish is made with over a dozen ingredients that are all visible and vibrant. The star of the show is the ribbons of duck which Hana is not frugal about in this salad.

Red box on white counter

Digging In

Where do I even start? In a dish with so many ingredients, I like to try each one individually to get a sense of taste and texture separately. Essentially, I give each ingredient its own attention. It’s important to note that the duck salad’s veggies vary depending on the season. When I tried this in December 2020, this is what I had.

The duck is marinated in akamiso (red miso) and is slightly charcoal-grilled. It’s soft and buttery. The salad also has delicious carrot kinpira (julienned vegetables that are braised in a sauce made of soy and sugar), shungiku leaves (slightly bitter, yet delicate leafy greens) and maitake mushrooms, blanched and boiled in a dashi-based broth.

Related: Can’t Dine Out? These Toronto Restaurants Are Offering Date Night Meal Delivery

Ingredients that were new to me include: ginkgo (nuts that comes from a ginkgo tree and taste like edamame), golden beets (which are much sweeter than the red ones) and kikka kabura (a flower-shaped turnip). Other characters that make up the salad include daikon, radish sprouts, red cabbage, persimmons (because they’re in season), lotus roots, figs and the most finely sliced limes that complimented every bite.

Duck salad inside red box

The Sour Notes

This salad is made with a variety of vinegars: saffron vinegar, tosa vinegar, sweet vinegar and more. I can say with confidence, I never once made a dramatic sour face the way babies do when trying a lemon for the first time.

The Verdict

This dish could have gone terribly wrong given the amount of acidity in it. Ninety per cent of the vegetables were marinated with acidic notes, yet the duck stood up to it all.

I think one of the ways the chef was able to control the acidity is by his masterful knife skills, which Japanese chefs are known for. You’ll notice the dish is full of vegetable that are sliced, diced, julienned, fine-julienned and chiffonade cut. The cutting technique affects flavour. The more finely cut a vegetable, the more marinade it can absorb, which mean the chef is able to maintain a balanced flavour.

Although the shiso flower buds make a very pretty garnish, next time I would politely put them to the side. They have a very strong, lingering herb flavour that I could easily do without. I see why it would work well in a cocktail.

Overall, if you like duck, this is a must-have. You won’t be disappointed with the portion, presentation or palatableness.

Closeup of takeout duck salad in red box with wood chopsticks

Interested in more takeout reviews? We tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits and Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich.

Photos courtesy of Deepi Harish

Canadian Restaurant Locations from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Guy Fieri’s road tripping adventures on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have taken him all across the United States and beyond. More recent seasons included stops in Cuba, Spain and Mexico, but before he ventured to those countries, he headed north of the border to Canada.

Guy has sampled some of the most eclectic cuisine that reflects our country’s diversity, from Chinese hand-pulled noodles to Jewish deli-smoked meats. Here are the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Canadian locations that you can visit in Toronto and Vancouver.

Jethro’s Fine Grub (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 12, Guy was treated to homemade pulled pork with slaw at Jethro’s Fine Grub. When you’re in Vancouver,  stop by for breakfast and try the Gold Rush; pancakes stuffed with bananas, pecans and streusel.

The Rosedale Diner (Toronto, ON)

Season 17 brought Guy to Toronto with a visit to the Rosedale Diner for Asian pork ribs. Brunch is a popular time to visit this diner for a classic Eggs Benny or scrumptious chicken and waffles.

No waffling about today’s brunch choice.

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The Tomahawk (Vancouver, BC)

Season 13 included a visit to Vancouver’s Tomahawk for some roast beef, a French dip, and a steak and mushroom pie. This legendary diner is also known for its Skookum Chief Burger, made with an organic beef patty, Yukon-style bacon, a free-run egg, aged Cheddar and a sliced hot dog.

Have you ever tried our Skookum Burger? #Tomahawk BBQ #Burgers #North Vancouver

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The Stockyards (Toronto, ON)

The Stockyards was one of Guy’s Toronto stops in Season 17. They were excited to show off their burgers, fried chicken and mouth-watering BLT, but their BBQ smoked ribs are one of the main reasons that locals flock to this smokehouse and larder.

Falconetti’s (Vancouver, BC)

While in Vancouver during Season 13, Guy sampled the handmade Thai chicken sausage at Falconetti’s. This east side bar and grill is known for its delicious eats and live music to entertain you throughout the week.

The Ace (Toronto, ON)

A Season 16 episode, ‘Layers of Flavor’ included a visit to The Ace in Toronto. Guy tried their pork belly, the mac and cheese burger, and a Christmas burger, but their Clubhouse is where it’s at when lunchtime rolls around.

Meat and Bread (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 13’s “Old Faves, New Craves,” Guy paid a call to Vancouver’s Meat and Bread. The porchetta sandwich was on the menu, followed up by a decadent maple bacon ice cream sandwich.

The Lakeview (Toronto, ON)

During Guy’s Season 16 trip to Toronto, stuffed French toast, a cornflake chicken club and a pie milkshake were ready to be devoured at The Lakeview. This restored diner serves up diner classics, including a banana split perfect for sharing.

Peaceful Restaurant (Vancouver, BC)

Family kitchens were the focus of the Season 13 episode that brought Guy to Peaceful Restaurant in Vancouver. Some of their recipes have been passed down from generations, including their fresh hand-pulled noodles and beef rolls.

#dandannoodles #foodie #fodgasam #chinesefood #spicy #delicious???? #sichuan #nomnom

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The Red Wagon Cafe (Vancouver, BC)

Guy dug into some pulled pork pancakes with a side of Jack Daniels syrup at Vancouver’s Red Wagon Cafe in Season 13. The savoury shredded pork is featured in other dishes on the menu, including their ooey, gooey mac and cheese.

Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON)

Authentic Jewish deli fare was the star of Season 16’s ‘Real Deal Roots’ that brought Guy to Caplansky’s Deli. Their College Street location has closed, but you can still sample smoked meat sandwiches, knish and brisket at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

The Reubenesque @ #caplanskys #reuben #deli #meaty ????: @hmdfood666

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Save-On-Meats (Vancouver, ON)

Vancouver’s butcher shop, turned bakery and diner, Save-On-Meats, welcomed Guy in Season 13. Their menu includes classics like turkey pot pie and decadent burgers, but selections like this Ranchero Shrimp Benny really shine.

Ranchero shrimp benny for the win!

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Toronto Taste Chef Challenge

Enter for a Chance to Win VIP Passes to Toronto Taste

Toronto Taste, the city’s renowned culinary fundraiser, returns June 3rd for another enticing evening in support of Second Harvest. We’re thrilled to be giving away a VIP prize pack to one Food Network Canada fan!

Mark McEwan at Toronto Taste 2017

Set at Corus Quay, located on Toronto’s scenic waterfront, this year’s event features delectable dishes and delightful drinks from over 60 restaurants and 30 beverage purveyors. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet some of your favourite Food Network Canada stars including Mark McEwan, Michael Smith, and Top Chef Canada contestants Elia Herrera, Ivana Raca and Carl Heinrich.

Toronto Taste 2017

The evening is filled with exquisite eats, auctions and entertainment, including the action-packed annual Chef Challenge, co-hosted by Noah Cappe. Food Network Canada and Global News will also be hosting a lounge where guests can sit back and savour the entire experience.

Since 1991, Toronto Taste has raised over $13 million to support Second Harvest’s food rescue program. Every ticket sold enables Second Harvest to provide meals for adults, children and seniors in need. Last year, the event raised a record-breaking $925,000 — enough to rescue and deliver 1.8 million nutritious meals across the city.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Toronto Taste on June 3rd visit torontotaste.ca.

We’re giving away one (1) VIP prize pack to Toronto Taste (including 2 VIP tickets, an overnight stay at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, and a $50 Uber gift card).

To enter, comment below and tell us, “Who is your favourite Food Network Canada Chef?” For your chance to win, you must comment by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2018.

No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per person per day. One (1) Prize available to be won. Approximate retail value of Prize CDN$1,200.00. Must be a legal resident of the province of Ontario who is age of majority or older at time of entry.  Contest runs from May 18, 2018 to May 22, 2018. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2018. Skill testing question must be correctly answered to claim Prize. Odds of being selected depend on number of eligible entries received. For full set of rules visit here.

 

Best Places to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Ivana Raca

When it comes to drive, ambition and a palate that knows no bounds, Chef Ivana Raca comes to mind. The former Yugoslavia native currently calls Toronto home, and it’s there, through three restaurant ventures and a win on Chopped Canada, that she’s earned the respect of her peers and critics alike.

Despite Ivana’s busy schedule and demanding gig, she still takes time to enjoy the delicious eats the city has to offer. So when she has some rare time off, here’s the Toronto restaurants she likes to indulge.

Related: Read Ivana Raca’s full bio here.

Resto Boemo

This stall at Assembly Chef’s Hall is the collaboration between Chopped Canada host Brad Smith and Ivana, who won a 2016 episode of the series. According to Ivana, the pair teamed to create some of the best gnocchi and “burgers in the city,” but Boemo also represents the idea of an improved, “free’er” chef—one who has no limits to the imagination.

Ufficio

There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Toronto, but Ivana’s other, full-service, spot boasts a specialized Italian-pescatarian menu with plenty of vegetarian options and seasonal Canadian ingredients. With a cozy brick interior and items like Ivana’s highly recommended Trout Crudo and “incredible” Seafood Lasagna at the ready, Ufficio makes for a great stop on a date or special celebration. “Home is where the heart is,” Ivana adds, speaking to Ufficio’s overall tone.

DaiLo

Chef Nick Liu’s refined menu at this thriving spot is where old meets new, as it honours the tastes of an older generation while connecting to future generations through food. The fare is inspired by Liu’s Hakka parents, but the Canadian chef follows French traditions in order to update some classics for more modern palates. The result is a winning combination that keeps diners coming back for more.

“[It’s] amazing fusion cuisine,” says Ivana. “Takes me back to Asia.”

f e a t u r e ???? Tonight, our feature special from one of our cooks, Jeff Miranda, is an incredible take on a Filipino dish called Kare Kare (pronounced kah-reh kah-reh). ???? Short-Rib Kare Kare beef short rib in a peanut sauce // grilled garlic scapes // Japanese eggplant // grilled bok choy sum // grilled onions // topped with mustard greens oil // candied shrimp crumble // crispy banana blossom // fried beef tendon · · · ???? @joeysalmingo ???? #ShotOnCanon #Canon #CanonForFood ???? #KareKare #FilipinoFood #SickAsianFood #NewAsianCuisine #FilipinoFoodMovement #ShortRib #Pinoy #PinoyFood #FuckThatsDelicious #EatTO #BlogTO #Eeeeeeats #Eat #Food #FoodPorn #Tastemade #f52 #food52 #Narcity #FoodPhotoOfTheDay #Foodie #EatFamous #ChefLife #TrueCooks #Chefs #FilipinoDish #Filipino

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Restaurant Chantecler

Frog legs, escargot and other classic French fare grace the menu of this fine-dining establishment, which is named after Canada’s only heritage breed of chicken. An open kitchen faces the bar with limited seating in between, meaning that if you want to get in on this Parkdale favourite, reservations are usually required.

“[It has a] great steak tartar,” Ivana raves. “[It] always hits the spot for me.”

Beauty shot of @chanteclerto beef tartare on the pass ????

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Ramen Isshin

Ivana is “huge on ramen,” which makes this eatery a staple on her list. Isshin has two locations: one in the downtown Toronto core and another at Assembly Chef’s Hall. The name translates into “one heart, one ramen” and so a large variety of bowls grace the menu—including the signature Wok Fried Red Miso Ramen. Ivana says the “black sesame miso is a must-have,” but no matter what you order, you’re guaranteed traditional Tonkotsu broth, a signature blend of red and white miso and only the freshest ingredients.

See Chef Elia Herrera’s Top 5 Toronto Eats

Get Chef Matt Sullivan’s Top 5 Eats in Toronto

Find out about Chef Dennis Tay’s Favourite Filipino Eats in Toronto

Best Places to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Elia Herrera

There are tons of cuisines to sample in this world, and Top Chef Canada’s Elia Herrera has certainly mastered many of them. The third-generation chef has trained extensively in Spain, France, Belgium and Italy, which makes her an experienced connoisseur of fine fare in our books.

For the past 15 years the Mexican native and executive chef at Los Colibris has called Toronto home, which means she’s had plenty of time to sample some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. When she’s in the mood to wine and dine, here’s the Toronto restaurants Elia must visit.

Related: Read Elia Herrera’s full bio here.

PAI Northern Thai Kitchen 

There are plenty of Thai joints out there, but few can rival the authenticity of this small eatery with big flavours. The menu hails from chef Nuit Regular, a former nurse in Thailand who, along with her husband Jeff, opened their first restaurant in Pai, Thailand years ago. Today the pair are the owners of three Thai restaurants across the city, but locals and tourists alike still flock to this original hotspot.

“I love Pai; I love the flavours, the quality and I love Chef Nuit,” says Elia. “She is very honest with her cuisine. My favourite is the green curry and the fresh coconut.”

Bricco Kitchen and Wine Bar

Rotating flights of bold reds and crisp whites grace the menu of this Italian resto with strong Mediterranean influences. With up to 20 wines by the glass available at any seating, the overall goal of Bricco and owner/sommelier Eric Gennaro is to connect home-style food with wine in a “meaningful” way.

“I love the gnocchi with taleggio porcini cream,” reveals Elia. “I am glad it is a signature dish because I love it a million and it is always there waiting for me.”

Bar Buca

Bar Buca is Chef Rob Gentile’s follow-up eatery to his other Italian hotspot, Buca. Located a stone’s throw from the original Buca, this more casual spinoff opens at 7:30am each day so guests can start the day with an Italian-style breakfast of fresh pastries and specialty coffee. Starting at lunch and going late into the night, the full menu features seasonal small plates, skewers, bites and handcrafted cocktails .

“I like [to go there] with friends to have a drink and [share] small plates,” Elia says. “[It’s] super delicious and the menu changes often. [It has a] nice vibe.”

Carmen

Traditional recipes and simple ingredients combine for big, bold flavours at this Spanish spot, where robust tapas and paellas are just the beginning of the dining experience. Each signature dish on the menu represents a Spanish value to restaurateur Veronica Laudes and chef Luis Valenzuela Robles Linares, who hope that diners walk away feeling as though their dining experience also doubled as a visit to Spain.

“Their paellas are so good,” raves Elia.

416 Snack Bar

Some people call them tapas, but owners Dave Stewart and Adrian Ravinsky (alongside Top Chef Canada: All-Stars’ competitor and executive chef Dustin Gallagher) call them snacks. Indeed, this is the place for the young crowd to come and dine the night away. The hotspot takes no reservations, doesn’t do takeout and while they encourage sharing there is no cutlery as everything is meant to be eaten with your hands.

“[It’s an] awesome place with amazing food,” says Elia. “Small plates are the way I like it, so that I can try different dishes. The cocktails are delicious and I love the tuna hand roll and the steamed buns with crispy pork belly.”

Get Chef Ivana Raca’s Top 5 Toronto Eats

See where 416 Snack Bar’s Chef and Top Chef Canada: All-Stars competitor Dustin Gallagher loves to eat in Toronto

See Chef Matt Sullivan’s Top 5 Toronto Eats

Best Places to Eat in Toronto: Top Chef Canada’s Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan has spent nearly a decade-and-a-half in the kitchen, working everywhere from a Michelin-starred restaurant to his current role as the corporate chef of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. While some may say that working a corporate job has made Matt lose touch in the kitchen, that statement just makes him all the more determined to win this year’s title of Top Chef Canada.

Matt’s interest in elevating the food programs under his current title has made him pay closer attention to the modern and versatile menus out there. So when he’s not hustling in the kitchen, here are the hotspots where this chef loves to enjoy someone else’s cooking.

Related: Read Matt Sullivan’s full bio here.

Foxley Bistro

This decade-old establishment is so successful it doesn’t even need a website. Featuring a cozy dining room and a slew of small plates inspired by Asian and Pan-Latin cuisines, Foxley and chef Tom Thai are considered Toronto culinary masters.

“It’s a staple in Toronto. It has been for 10-plus years and it (hopefully) will be for a long time [to come],” says Sullivan. “Get the beef cheek and sea bream ceviche. The servers have all been there forever and are the best in the city.”

Grey Gardens

Jenn Agg’s eclectic eatery features North American cuisine, a topnotch wine bar, an open kitchen and a secret sake service to boot. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the creative team has a pretty impressive resume too; chef Mitchell Bates (who co-owns with Agg) previously worked at Momofuku Ko and Shoto, which means he has the goods to back this menu up.

“[It’s] maybe the best food I had in all of 2017,” Matt says. “Mitch Bates is a Jedi and Jen Agg’s service is always on point. It’s just an amazing overall restaurant that everyone who lives in Toronto or visits here should check out.”

Branzino, turnips, capers, fried leeks #kintsugi

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Bar Buca

It’s industrial meets classic in Chef Rob Gentile’s follow-up eatery to Buca. This spinoff features seasonal small plates, skewers, bites and handcrafted cocktails that make it a great spot for small gatherings and celebrations. With an open kitchen, a beautiful dining room and a gorgeous patio, this is another hit with Torontonians and tourists alike.

“I have been so many times and never get tired of the food and service there,” Matt says. “The last time I was by myself, I spent two hours there and ate nine dishes!”

Superpoint

Locals have long enjoyed the house-made pasta and pizza from this favourite haunt, which features takeout or dine-in options and plenty of other Italian favourites like arancini, burrata and grilled seafood.

“Everything on the menu is awesome there — Johnny Poon is my favourite chef in the city; I can eat his food all day,” Matt says. “They also have a great wine menu and cocktails.”

Perfect day for a slice ???????????? #dinein #takeout #delivery #superpoint #onpoint

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Bar Raval

There are no reservations at this fun spot, where intimate hangouts and shared experiences are pretty much required. With an ever-changing menu and special, handcrafted cocktails, the space is further elevated by a carefully curated soundtrack.

“[It’s] such a fun spot to eat at with a group of friends. The service is super professional and friendly and the food is stupid good,” Matt says.

Get Chef Elia Herrera’s Top 5 Toronto Eats

See Chef Ivana Raca’s Top 5 Toronto Eats

Read about Chef Dustin Gallagher’s Top 10 Toronto Eats

7 Most Indulgent Desserts You Need to Try from The Baker Sisters

There are desserts, and then there are unforgettable, show-stopping masterpieces that are so good you can’t get them out of your head. Considering that Rachel Smith and Jean Parker have travelled far and wide in search of the best bakeries for their series The Baker Sisters, it’s safe to say that when it comes to indulgent desserts they definitely know a thing or two.

From deep-dish dessert pizza that’s so indulgent you won’t be able to stop yourself after just one slice, to a mousse cake that’s like a giant chocolate-wafer-hazelnut confection that goes by a certain name, here are some of their top picks from across the country.

1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Corn Crunch Cupcakes at Crave Bakery in Calgary


Click here to get the
Caramel Peanut Popcorn Topping recipe.

It’s like the bakers at Crave took the wishes of every sweet-toothed consumer out there and combined their cravings into one delightful cupcake with this mouthful of a concoction. Between the chocolaty peanut butter, the salty popcorn and the sweet caramel, this is exactly what we picture an explosion of flavours to physically look (and taste!) like.

“It had the biggest name and in one little cupcake, it delivered,” Jean says. “You had your two frostings playing with each other, the chocolate and the peanut butter. Their cake recipe itself was like grandma’s and it was spot-on perfect…Then we made our own caramel corn, and put that on top of it. It was little and stacked up, but it was crazy good.”

2. The Dark Knight Cake at Chess Piece Patisserie & Café in Fredericton

This Fredericton-based Parisian style café may offer a wide range of baked goods and pastries, but for the Baker Sisters one thing truly stood out: the Dark Knight Cake that Jean got to recreate for the show.

She raves:  “It’s a mousse cake, praline in the inside, and covered in a chocolate glaze. The flavours, the textures, everything about it…”

“Your fork slid through it,” Rachel adds. “It was so indulgent because of those layers of chocolate.”

3. The London Fog Cake at Cadeaux Bakery in Vancouver

In terms of making classic hot beverages come to life in cake form, Eleanor Chow Waterfall has an instant, indulgent winner with her London Fog cake.

“There were 37 steps to make it,” Jean recalls. “Eleanor was awesome. One cool chick, but very precise and would not skip or take any shortcuts. It took a long time. I think there were nine layers of cake; it was huge, and it was perfect. It was infused with this tea, silky, light and fluffy, really high.” No wonder the sisters thought it was to die for.

4. The Amazing Schnecken at Trafiq in Vancouver

We may never be able to look at cinnamon buns with a fair eye (or taste them with the same palate) again after witnessing the magic that went into making the Schnecken at this cafe. Rachel goes so far as to call the treat, which is reminiscent of a Chelsea bun, “insane.”

“Even in the show when I’m doing my tasting, I turn to the baker and I’m like, ‘I need to take a private minute,’” she says. “It was buttery. It was ooey goey. You pour your caramel on the bottom and then your nuts, and then you put your buns on it. He actually froze his buns and then sliced it, and then baked it frozen because what ends up happening is it doesn’t over-bake the dough. So the dough is still really soft and the outside of it gets that firm, crispy that you want. And it was huge.”

Get the recipe for the amazing schnecken here. 

5. The Deep Dish Pizza at Junked Food Co. in Toronto

You don’t have to travel to Chicago to experience delightful deep-dish pizza, especially if you’re looking for a sweeter riff on the original. The crew at Junked Food Co are renowned for their sweet eats, especially since they’re open late and speak to a very specific, sweet-toothed crowd.


Rachel eyeing a slice of that dessert deep dish pizza made by Junked Food Co.’s Brian McKilligan.

“That deep dish pizza was crazy. These men know exactly what they’re doing and who they’re selling to,” Rachel says. “This deep-dish dessert pizza had everything—marshmallow goo, chocolate, caramel, gummy candies. It’s got it all.”

6. Wild Strawberry Brioche Bun with Cream Cheese Icing at The Old Apothecary Bakery & Café in Halifax

Sometimes the most indulgent offerings are the ones that actually bring us back to the basics thanks to the simplicity of their ingredients. That was definitely the case for the sisters when they travelled to Halifax and made these wild strawberry brioche buns.

“It’s not terribly fancy, but it was a brioche wild strawberry bun, like a cinnamon roll, but it was made with wild strawberries from Halifax,” Jean recalls. “The brioche dough was slathered in this cream cheese icing. It was so fresh and lovely and decadent.”

Want to see more indulgent treats? Take our delicious quiz: Pick a Dessert and We’ll Tell You Where You Should Live. You’re gonna want some cake after, though.

Doubles

5 Must-Try Snacks at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Caribana weekend is around the corner! As we get ready to come together in Toronto to jump and wave at one of the largest street festivals in North America, it’s only right we fuel ourselves with flavour-packed Caribbean foods! We’ve rounded up some of the best Caribbean street foods and treats that make for the perfect Caribana snack.

Doubles

Doubles
Doubles are a delicious, filling snack that are oozing with curried chickpea goodness! This snack is a common street food in Trinidad and Tobago but luckily for us, it is readily available in Toronto. It consists of channa (curried chickpeas) surrounded by two round pieces of bara (fried dough). It’s then wrapped up tightly in wax paper and ready to enjoy. It’s often topped with a tangy cucumber chutney and tamarind sauce. The tart sauce, spicy chutney and hot channa blend perfectly together to create a unique burst of flavor with every bite. If you like your snacks with an extra kick then be sure to add a touch of Caribbean hot sauce on top. Grab doubles while you watch the Grande Parade from one of the many vendors nearby. Just be sure to save your dance moves for after you eat because this tasty snack can get messy!

Jamaican Patty

Jamaican Patties
Jamaican patties are flaky, golden pockets that make a perfect snack on the go. It’s no surprise that these hand-held snacks are available at almost every corner store and major subway stop in the city. Patties can be filled with anything from spicy beef to jerk chicken or curried vegetables. If you want an exceptionally flaky patty then head on over to Randy’s Take Out on Eglinton Avenue West. If you’ve graduated from the spicy beef patty and want to try something new, seek out ComeNyam’s unique patties. Their patties are filled with everything from oxtail to pumpkin. You can find their patties at specialty food stores throughout the city.

Fishcakes and Bakes

Fish Cakes and Bakes
You can never go wrong with saltfish fritters. They are easy to carry on the road at Caribana and extra filling too. Although there are many variations of fried dough packed with flavor and saltfish across the islands, I suggest the Bajan fish cakes and bakes. Bakes are a sweet fried dough that go perfectly with any treat. Street Shak Caribbean Kitchen offers their own spin on these Bajan snacks that are sure to please.

Corn Soup

Corn Soup
You may be wondering why soup made the list. It isn’t what you typically think of as a snack, but this hearty Caribbean soup can be found across the city outside of the major Caribana parties. Served extra hot and filled with ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, scallion, coconut milk and thyme, you’ll find several vendors at the parade with a big pot of this delicious dish. You can also grab the corn soup late night outside of the many fetes. After a fun filled day of carnival parade and parties, a nice big bowl of corn soup will help you re-charge.

Bobby Flay

The One Place Bobby Flay Won’t Open a Restaurant

Here in Canada, we can’t get enough of Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay, whether we’re slapping one of his signature BBQ recipes on the grill, or creeping his cat’s Instagram account (we see you @nachoflay). But when we asked Chef Flay if he plans to open a restaurant north of the border, the American star was unequivocal: No. Not here, not now, not ever.

Thankfully it’s not because he doesn’t love Canada. In fact, Chef Flay is especially fond of Toronto, where he recently collaborated with long-time friend and former Iron Chef competitor Susur Lee. The culinary duo cooked up a special dinner at Lee’s restaurant Frings; the menu featured chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and braised octopus, where several lucky locals, including Drake, were in attendance.

Susur Lee and Bobby FlayFlay talked up the Toronto food scene while explaining why he’s not in a hurry to open a Canadian outpost: “In a town like Toronto, where there’s such a great culinary culture, I believe that the people of Toronto should be supporting the local chefs, and they do,” he said. Then he tempered his answer with a downright Canadian-sounding dose of humility: “Without mentioning names, there have been countless American chefs that have tried this town and they haven’t done very well. So I don’t think I’m better than them.”

Not even his pal Susur Lee could convince him. “But you know, Chef Bobby, I’ll tell you — your flavours would really suit in this town,” said Chef Lee. “Your big flavours!”

Susur Lee and Bobby Flay in Toronto

Still, the answer was — and is — no.

“When I roll out of my bed in New York, I can walk into my restaurant and cook,” he explained. “Even though Toronto is only an hour away, you still have to go the airport and get on a plane — it’s a whole event.”

Bobby Flay loves flying in and wowing Canadian diners, or cooking for them when they visit one of his US restaurants, but he doesn’t want to be anybody’s American fling. Falling in love with a Bobby Flay restaurant is a long-term affair, and that’s just how he likes it.

“You have to get people to buy in for a long period of time, not just once or twice,” he said, noting that his famed Mesa Grill ran 20 years before closing, and that three of his current restaurants have been open for more than ten years. “That’s what it takes to have success in the restaurant industry. It’s not a get rich quick proposal.”

It might not be the answer we want, but it’s an honest one. So in the mean time, we’ll be saving up for a trip to Flay’s Gato in New York City, and consoling ourselves with these awesome Bobby Flay recipes.

Can’t get enough Bobby? His new show Brunch at Bobby’s premieres Saturday, September 10 at 10 a.m. E/P. See the schedule here

Chef’s Battle: Toronto’s Tastiest Dish Is…

The debate is over and the winner is undeniably delicious.

A stunning trio of flame-seared sushi set inside an empty lobster tail, topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, butter-poached lobster and truffles has been named Toronto’s Tastiest Dish.

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi of Miku snapped up the coveted prize at the inaugural Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle on that saw four of the city’s best chefs steam, torch and sear their way through a kitchen stadium-like contest at George Brown College.

taste-of-toronto-chefs-battle

Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle

Chefs Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, Cora James of Mamakas Taverna, Hayden Johnston of Richmond Station and Uchigoshi each presented their vision for a dish that best captures Toronto. It’s no easy feat, considering the very question sparks debates among foodies and even divide friendships. Award-winning food journalists and judges Amy Rosen, Lucy Waverman and Mike Ward took their roles seriously, picking a dish that represents the best of Toronto.

From flame-seared sushi to Coca Cola-doused duck tamales to a braised rib-stuffed burger and a sophisticated take on a Greek classic, this year’s contenders prove that Toronto’s food scene is as diverse as it is enticing.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto
Embodying the Aburi rule of “zekkei,” Uchigoshi’s winning creation is as beautiful as delicious. The stunning lobster dish pairs a trio of the restaurant’s signature flamed-seared Temari and Nigiri sushi, topped with butter-poached lobster, Wagyu beef and foie gras. Set inside of an empty lobster shell, each bite is topped with sliced truffle, micro greens and chopped ginger.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos
Duck Carnitas Tamale is a labour of love that starts with the duck bathing in milk and Coca Cola to tenderize and caramelize. After baking for two hours, it is wrapped in corn meal and a banana leaf pocket, and steamed until tender. The final dish is topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa verde, salty cotija cheese and a dollop of creme.

Cora James, Mamakas
Pastry chef Cora James serves up a delicate and sophisticated Greek-inspired dish that starts with a katafi pastry base, topped with white chocolate, custard and whipped cream. A touch of Ontario strawberry jam is layered with lemon cream and a wisp of oregano.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station
Hailed as one of the city’s best, the famed Stn. Burger earned its spot for a reason. Made with a house-cranked ground beef patty that’s stuffed with braised and shredded ribs, it’s then seared in a smoking hot cast iron pan to keep all those juices basting. The burger is enveloped in house-made buttered buns, garlic mayonnaise, pickled onions, beer relish and aged cheddar.

Eager foodies will have a chance to try Chef Uchigoshi’s winning sushi dinner at this year’s Taste of Toronto at Garrison Common at Fort York June 23-26.

Want free tickets to this year’s food fest? Learn how here.

All photos courtesy of Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto.

Mark-McEwan-Toronto-Taste-2015-feature

Meet Michael Smith, Mark McEwan and Carl Heinrich at Toronto Taste!

Mark McEwan Toronto Taste 2015

Mark McEwan at Toronto Taste 2015

Toronto’s culinary fundraiser, Toronto Taste, is back on June 12th to tempt your taste buds and help support Second Harvest’s commitment to providing food to people in need.

Set at Corus Quay, a gorgeous waterfront space overlooking Lake Ontario, the event will feature delicious dishes and drinks from over 90 restaurants and beverage purveyors. Look forward to an evening packed with tasty eats, silent auctions and entertainment, including the annual Chef Challenge between three renowned chefs tasked with creating a winning dish using mystery ingredients.

Toronto Taste 2015

Toronto Taste 2015

You’ll also get a chance to meet some of your favourite Food Network Canada stars and culinary greats, including Michael Smith, Mark McEwan and Carl Heinrich. It’ll be a fun-filled day you won’t want to miss.

Since 1991, Toronto Taste has raised over $11 million to support Second Harvest’s food rescue program. Every ticket sold enables Second Harvest to provide meals for adults, children and seniors in need.

For more information and to get tickets for Toronto Taste on June 12th visit torontotaste.ca.

The Sandwich Capital of Canada Is…

Hogtown, the Six, T-dot, the Big Smoke, the Sandwich Capital of Canada. Whatever you call it, Toronto is a big city with big-city pleasures and big-city problems, so it’s no wonder busy residents often eat on the go.

They’ve got sports teams to cheer for and complain about, traffic to get stuck in, and weather to hide from,” says You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci. “Torontonians don’t have time to eat their food with a fork and knife — they want to pick it up with both hands! That’s why you’ll find some amazing sandwiches here in Canada’s sandwich capital!”

Want to know what Toronto’s hiding between its slices? In no particular order, here are some of the GTA’s best sandwiches, as featured on You Gotta Eat Here!

Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, The ClubhouseFried-Turkey-Sandwich-(2)Can’t get to Toronto’s Kensington Market to sample The Clubhouse’s Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, smothered in smoky mayo and topped with crispy cranberry cilantro slaw? Luckily, we’ve got the recipe.

 Cuban Medianoche, La CubanaBraised-Shortrib-Medianoche-1Pressed sandwiches are the specialty at La Cubana. With two locations in trendy Toronto hoods Roncesvalles Village and Ossington Village, this eatery knows how to please cool Torontonians. The secret? Fresh, classic fare with a throwback vibe. Be sure to try the Traditional Medianoche, a soft white milk bun filled with molasses pork, ham and Gruyère.

Hogtown BLT, The CureThe-Hogtown-Cure---Hogtown-Ultimate-BLT---IMG_8073If hunger is what ails you, Hogtown’s got a cure — The Cure’s Hogtown BLT. The Cure (formerly The Hogtown Cure) piles its signature sandwich with house-made bacon, peameal bacon, arugula and tomato, layering it on a bun smothered with bacon jam and remoulade. Yum!

The Beastwich, BeastBeastwichYou can’t beat the Beast…but you can try. (For real, you CAN try: with this recipe). Or, head on over to this Toronto hotspot for its Beastwich, an intimidating tower of a buttermilk biscuit filled with a fried chicken thigh, pimento cheese, pork sausage gravy and a fried egg.

Smoked Meat Sandwich, Caplansky’s DeliCaplansky's-Smoked-MEat-SandwichCaplansky’s is an old-school Jewish deli, serving all-day breakfasts and sandwiches piled high with house-smoked meats. Chef Zane Caplansky‘s signature dish is not to be missed!

Sloppy Joe, White Brick Kitchen IMG_3291---White-Brick_Bacon-Brisket-Sloppy-JoeIf the only Sloppy Joe you’ve ever had came from a can, prepare for a revelation. White Brick Kitchen’s version is hot mess of ground chuck, bacon, sour cream and BBQ sauce. Try it yourself at home, if you’d like — we’ve got the recipe.

Pulled Pork Beanasaurus, Sul Irmaos Smokehouse BeanosaurusSul Irmaos is a GTA favourite, celebrated for its Portuguese BBQ and comfort food. Their Pulled Pork Beanasaurus is a medley of Southern slow-cooked pork, kettle-cooked baked beans, creamy coleslaw and crunchy fried mac and cheese bites. Prefer to make the Pulled Pork Beanasaurus at home? Here’s the recipe.

Catch new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 9 E/P. Be sure to visit the location map to find the nearest sandwich shop near you.