CommunityFoodist.com is a place to share information about food. More specifically, my journey to eat and drink both seasonally and sustainably including my own personal take on our food community and the ideals that make me who I am. I urge you to engage in the process and help me on my journey, as this is all about interaction and provocation. I am a tastemaker, striving to make people want and crave, learn and grow, and most importantly to eat and drink the very best their local food systems have to offer.
Im my daily life I consult with the hospitality community to help them connect with their customers, and grow their businesses. How can I help your business?
Contact: joel (at) communityfoodist (dot) com
Im sick, you're sick, everyone is sick! Weeeeee! You guessed it, it is officially cold and flu season. Complaints abound on Facebook, Twitter, via text and email, and even a couple of phone calls. Everyone has their favourite recipes, but growing up in a Jewish household there is only one thing we crave, and that is our go-to to make ourselves feel better when hit by a bad bug. Mom's chicken soup. In my older age I have been adopting many new cold fighting techniques, to varying levels of success. One such thing is garlic, and lots of it! Chopped fine and swallowed with some water, really simple, and it will also scare away vampires (sorry, I couldn't resist).
It seems that when you are sick there is no soup to be had, and sadly neither does mom. “Honey, I could pick up some soup for you” seems to be the new offer of “Honey, let me make you a soup”. Mom, why so lazy? I tease, mommabear is fantastic, and if I asked she would gladly make and bring me soup. I tease, because I love. So, clearly I was sick recently, and that had me craving soup. This time, I was lazy and didn’t end up making what I intended until I felt better. Curse of a busy lifestyle. Seeing many other sick, I noticed a post from my west coast foodie friend Degan, that her and her husband were sick. Sent my condolences, and received this glorious soup recipe that I finally got around to making. Périgord Tourain combines my two favourite (and natural) cold remedies, chicken soup and a ton of garlic. Brilliant. Here is the recipe I based my soup on, but as usual I did it my way: http://www.tastingtable.com/ecs/6677.htm.
I have, what has been called, a keen interest in Ontario wine. Well, I think that is an understatement, but I’ll let it slide. I was contacted by the good folks at the Wine Country Ontario, and asked to profile and give away an experience to taste some great Ontario wines, and eat some great food. Well, their focus is on holiday gifts under $100, so that includes a lot more than just food and wine experiences. But really, can you see me at a spa?
John Hall is an iconic whiskey maker, based in Grimsby Ontario, with a long history in the industry as a winemaker. After 30 years in winemaking, he left for a while to work in the corporate sector, but his true calling was always bringing him full circle to his true love of the science of food, and blending. Realising that the way of the Canadian whiskey had gone the route of international consolidation, he decided to pursue a dream to get into the whiskey business. A dream that he had chased since his teenage years in Windsor growing up in the shadows of the Hiram Walker Distillery. Canadian whiskey is iconic, and he was on a mission to make the best that he could, and bring his creativity and passion to this golden liquid much revered internationally, like maple syrup and hockey.
Eggs, they do a body good? No, wait, that is milk. What do the Egg Farmers say, “Get stuffed”? No, that’s not it, but it does work with the theme of the day, Devilled Eggs. It is World Egg Month, and I was recruited along with some others to come up with some creative ideas for this one bite treat. What’s that, you don’t take it all in one bite? Amateur!
Being me has it’s privileges. This includes being friends with the people who grow my food, so I am truly blessed. You all know my favourite farmers so here is a story about one of them, and how they inspired something that happened in my kitchen. I’m talking, of course, about Fred and Ingrid DeMartines, with a side of Vicki Emlaw and Tim Noxon, of course. Vicki and Tim are always in there somewhere. This started when I was heading out to Stratford to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Stratford Festival, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It was excellent, if you care.
This past Saturday at Brickworks was the busiest of the season at the Vickis Veggies table, and rightfully so as the fall harvest is upon us. The farm has been working in overdrive to fill peoples bellies for Thanksgiving dinner, and beyond. This is truly my favourite time of the season. I LOVE summer, don’t get me wrong, but there is just something so special about fall, and the bounty that is placed before us by our loyal and hardworking farmers.
It is time to accept that fall is upon us. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it is truly arriving, shown by the turning of the leaves and cooler temperatures. For some this is the most joyous time of year, but I have to say I will not be happy to see the next season arrive, which shall remain nameless. With fall comes a change in our eating habits, and associated is our drinking habits. I have seen a switch in what I am looking for in a glass of wine from sweet and crisp whites, to light and refreshing reds, and whites with body and weight.
Fall means thanksgiving, and when I was at Taste Ontario last week I decided that it was an ideal opportunity to sample some of the best Pinot noir that we have to offer. Turkey and Pinot, I think this is just perfect, and my choice was backed up by a winery friend who tweeted that it is the season for Pinot and chardonnay. I guess I’m learning. I also tasted a few cab franc’s at the tasting, and feel some of these might be suited to our purpose here, as well.
13th Street, 13th Series Pinot Noir
This is the restaurant only line from one of my favourites, but will only help if you happen to be out for dinner this fall, and see it on the list. I have to mention it, because this Pinot is a classic, and very food friendly, with a really nice clean finish. Highly recommend ordering a bottle, and if they don’t have it at your favourite restaurant have them get some in. www.13thstreetwinery.com
2027 Cellars, Queenston Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 $35
2027 is a virtual winery, which means that they do not own a physical building in which they make wine, but rather borrow space. A great concept to help up and coming winemakers get product out to the public. I have tasted a couple of Kevin’s wines in the past, and enjoy them. His wild fermented Pinot was bright with a nice dry finish, and would be drinkable now but I would like to see this one develop www.2027cellars.ca
Im really excited to attend the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown at the Fairmont Royal York on November 21st. This is the first time I will be going, as in the past I have had conflicts and never made it out. An amazing group of chefs will gather to vie for the title of 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. Ocean Wise, a national sustainable seafood initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium, and the 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown is presented by Rickard’s and Granville Island Brewing. Tickets are available at vanaqua.org/chowder-chowdown.
I came up with this recipe while out at Vicki’s Veggies on Labour Day weekend for the annual Heirloom Hurrah. Every year on the last long weekend of the summer, people flock from all over Ontario to sample the goods at this annual tasting of the tomatoes. It started many years ago when Vicki realized that she had too many tomatoes left at the end of the season, so decided to invite people out to taste all of the great varieties that she grows.
Im lucky and spoiled, I get this. I make no excuses, nor do I let this go to my head, but rather I enjoy the life I am afforded and try to give as much as I get. My life included meetings with winemakers on the crush pads at their wineries, because, well it's harvest and the guys are busy. Thankfully I work in an industry that I love, and makes me happy (and feeds and waters me VERY well) . I had a meeting out at Vineland Estates this week with one of my top three favourite winemakers in the region, and what we are planning is going to be a fantastic experience for whoever is lucky enough to join us. Stay tuned for more on that via social media channels very soon. For now, I will just say that it's related to the return of Death Row Meals for the fall/winter 2012/13 season. Excited!
The winery as seen from the vineyard
In my late 20’s I was introduced to premium liquor, starting with my whiskey/scotch revelation! Well, in reality I thank my cousin Jonathan, who when I was 19 introduced me to the wonder that was Oban. Roof top at the bar at the Hotel, where I was taught lessons of life, love, and booze, by my older and much wiser cousin. This was my early introduction to the high end spirits, that would eventually (when I could finally afford it myself) change my life.
We all have stories, as your people, of overdoing it with booze in one way or another. Most people have bad memories of tequila shots, or poppers, in high school and university, that spoiled us for years, if not decades. This can change, you just have to know what to drink. Agreed, some people just wont like a certain spirit. Nothing to be done about it, but you don’t know until you try. I never had a tequila incident, but I never liked the taste. That is, until I found premium “sipping” tequilas.
This idea came to me when Jessie from Sosnicki Organics posted that she was bringing sweet onions to market one Saturday recently. Yes! This is similar to a recipe I do for balsamic onion compote, where I use duck fat for richness. The sweet onions in this recipe add a different flavour, as does the bacon fat. Perfect on a grilled cheese with aged cheddar!
Egg Salad. Loved by many, and loathed by more? Fact or fiction? Childhood memories of packed school lunches, picnics in parks, and just an easy meal on a busy weeknight, eggs are so versatile and are featured in many other meals than just brunch/breakfast. I have a love for egg salad, but not the egg salad of my childhood, but rather a grown up version where everything and anything is a possible ingredient. This got me thinking, what am I missing out on? What do other put in that would elevate my egg salad to a whole other level? You know me, I like to experiment in the kitchen, so I am turning to you all to see what you put in yours, and to help a brother out to make sure nothing is left behind in the search for the worlds greatest egg salad.
Sweet, savoury, and just plain delicious. This recipe I made a few weeks ago has such great flavours, I highly recommend trying it out. Combine the sweet and tart flavour of peaking strawberries, and add in some earthy flavour with cardamom, a little bite with some pepper, and there you have it...fire up the toaster!
I am not the hugest fan of bitter flavours, and as a result I have not been much into Campari. On a challenge, from friends who love the stuff, I am trying to change this. Aperol was suggested as a less bitter option to work with, so this weekend I am going to dive into my bottle and try some things out. So far my research has led to the following applications of this spirit, any other ideas for me?
My lentil love continues with this protein packed recipe, where you replace pasta for lentils in mac & cheese. Yes, I know, right?! Why did we never think of this before? When I was thinking up some unique recipes for lentils this one popped into my head. I had some chipotle infused duck fat that a chef friend gave to me, and wanted to use it in one of my recipes to confit lentils. Confit is a great technique where you cook something in a large amount of fat. Brilliant.
My love for Stratford Ontario runs deep, and has a history dating back to my childhood. As long as I can remember I have been visiting this sleeping, yet full of life town, that is under two hours from Toronto, to see shows at the Stratford Festival and enjoy the food in this culinary destination located in the heart of some of the best farm land in the country. As an adult, my perspective on the town has skewed, but only slightly. Well, the town has grown and this leads me to my love for everything culinary and gives me more of a reason to make the trip out more than once or twice a year. My most popular post on my blog, by a long stretch, was my post on my very first visit to Savour Stratford, one of the best food festivals in Ontario. I also posted a series of photos from last years event as well, located here and here.
One of my many friends from Stratford, Steve Stacey
Bannock is the newest addition in the O&B empire, one of larger privately owned chains in Ontario. I had been meaning to check it out, on many friends suggestions, for a while and thanks to the lentil promotion that I have been working on I had the chance. The good folks at Bannock, helmed by Chef Stephen Pynn, were happy to be involved in this promotion, and I was happy to be invited down to try out some of the food at Bannock. Lentils are so versatile, as we have talked about in my last few posts, and they demonstrated this wonderfully with their dish. Hard to compete with Chef Brady at Toca, and his seared foie gras with strawberry and rhubarb, but the Bannock dish was a contender, for sure.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the Canadian Meat Council conference, in Quebec City. What an honour, and opportunity. It was slightly daunting to have to prepare a 45 minute talk for people that would include farmers, processors, industry, government, and even possibly educators. What to talk about, and how to get my points across?
Firstly, a shout out to Heather at Canada Beef, who sang my praises to CMC and got me this gig. She is one of my many angels. The proposed topic was on how retailers can influence the wallets of consumers. This is right up my alley, and I started researching and talking to consumers, processors, butchers, the whole gamut. I wanted to cover all of my bases before I prepared this talk.
It changed direction a few times, and finally came together in to what I present to you below. For you consideration, this is my perspective and I hope I did us all justice.
If you like garlic, you will LOVE the newly opened Lil’ Baci Taverna, in the Yonge and Davisville area of Toronto. Lil’ Baci has another location in the Leslieville neighbourhood that has been around for many years, and is a staple in that food centric enclave in the east end. Mark Bacci is a charming restauranteur, and his experience and knowledge are showcased in both Lil’ Baci locations. Im in love with this bright and airy space that is housed on a bustling midtown block. You know what the best part is? They are opening a sandwich shop, and it will be licensed! Amazing.
In the kitchen at Lil’ Baci is Larry Santos, and he has a wonderful new home in the space that Mark and his partners built to create the kind of food that this neighbourhood has been missing. I can really only think of a handful of decent restaurants in that area worth visiting, and am glad to have another option relatively close to home.
I do love all kinds of food, and through this series on lentils I am showing you my love for these wonderful little tasty gems. Earlier, we chronicled some of the food at Frank at the AGO, and their attempt at winning my affections with their lentil dish. Well, sorry to say Chef Yarmovitch, but Chef Tom Brodi at TOCA has blown you out of the water. So, The Ritz is pretty fancy, huh? I havnt been down to that are of the city in a while, and between The Ritz and The Shore Club, we are really elevating our hotel and dining options in the city, and we haven’t even touched on the Trump or the soon to be opened Four Seasons and Momofuku beside the Shangri-La. But I digress, because we are here to talk about lentils, and the food at TOCA.
I love to make soup, more than I like to eat soup. This, however, has been one of all time favourites and is a staple in middle eastern food. I have adapted this recipe from Sababa Restaurant, and really think it is the perfect hearty soup. Serve it with a hunk of crusty bread and you have a nice meal. The recipe calls for red lentils, but I have used everything, except beluga, for this and it has turned out well. You might need to adjust the cooking times, though.
Have you entered the contest yet, and checked out my other lentil post about Frank at the AGO? I also visited TOCA by Tom Brodi at The Ritz, and will put that post up very soon. I hope you make this soup and enjoy it. Let me know what you think or would do differently.
Do you think Picasso loved lentils? Frank does, as one of three restaurants in Toronto participating in the loveyourlentils.ca contest to win a trip to PEI to hang out with Chef Michael Smith. Frank at the AGO was the first stop on my tour to sample the goodness being prepared by these chefs . I had not been to Frank before, and had wanted to see the Picasso exhibit, so this was a great opportunity to check two things off my list. Or was it? I’m not one for being overly prepared, so when we (mama bear and I) showed up to see the exhibit, and we were told the galleries close at 5:30 (it was 5:00) I was only partially surprised at my failure. Sigh. Well, at least mom and I were hungry, so we went right to Frank.