Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Toronto Food

I have been remiss in reporting on the lovely food I ate in Toronto last weekend whilst visiting my friend J for a couple of days. The provincial government very kindly gave us Monday off, so I took advantage of it and hopped a Greyhound early Saturday morning, slated to put me in Toronto by noon . Alas, the bus gods decided it was not to be, and after a two-and-a-half-hour delay, most of which was spent sitting in a roadside restaurant in Actinolite Junction (where I purchased a soggy tuna sandwich and a bottle of water), I finally made it to my destination just before three. J took pity on my starved state and stopped at a food court on the way to the subway, where I scarfed a mediocre slice of Hawaiian pizza to stave off the shakes. Talk about convenience food. I would have gotten a sandwich made at the Croissant Tree, but there was one girl working the counter and she seemed to be moving at about ¼ normal speed. I was far too hungry to hang around for that.

After a shower and a traipse around the Italian markets and bakeries of the St.Clair and Dufferin area, we went for supper at Marcello’s, a lovely, homey neighbourhood Italian restaurant with a wood oven for pizza and a long lineup. It was more than worth the wait, though, as the pizza I had was equal in quality to anything I’ve ever had at Wooden Heads in Kingston , my current gold standard for thin-crust wood-fired pie. Mine was lovingly topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella of excellent quality, as well as half-moons of gently spicy Italian sausage, strips of roasted red pepper (without a hint of the acidity that means bottled), and paper-thin slices of grilled eggplant. Gorgeous to look at, delicious in the mouth, generous of size – I took just under half of it home and had it for Monday lunch – there was nothing bad about it. J’s American-style pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper pie was just as lovely and apparently just as yummy. (We didn’t share.)

The following day, we had a peaceful and delicious Japanese lunch at Asuka in Yorkville. It was pouring rain outside, so the upscale area was nearly deserted, so ducking into the nearest restaurant was not the risk it generally is. J enjoyed a bowl of unagi-don – grilled eel on rice – while I finally tried out chirashi sushi, which is assorted sashimi on a bed of sushi rice. It was utterly divine – I counted six different kinds of fish, a shrimp, and one lone slice of cuttlefish, which I know from experience I do not like. Ugh. I tucked it to the side and devoured the rest, all of which was fresh and yummy. Both our meals came with salad and miso soup, and were very reasonably priced ($16 for my chirashi). Washed down with toasted brown-rice tea, it was a perfect interlude to the rainy day of walking and exploring.
More rice that evening, in the form of an asparagus and portobello mushroom risotto that J and I and her boy concocted in their lovely kitchen. They use Jamie Oliver’s basic risotto recipe and add whatever they like to it. Alongside a simple green salad, it made a warm and comforting supper in front of the TV, curled up in chairs watching the movie Elizabeth (which I liked).

All in all, an excellent weekend for this foodie.

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