Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Savour Stratford Perth County Grand Tasting Event

Sunday, July 20 1-4pm

The Grand Tasting - Sunday, July 20 afternoon - Our garden party will take place in an elegant tent off historic York Street fronting the Avon River. Pairing 30 local chefs with local food producers and farmers to create seasonal delicacies complemented by Ontario VQA wines and craft brews. Tasting Awards will be presented. Musical entertainment by Jazz vacalist Ori Dagan and The Riley O'Connor Trio featuring Jordana Talsky. Silent auction with proceeds to the Festival's children's entertainment & programming.

24 invited regional chefs paired with local producers
20 + Ontario wineries and craft breweries ALL for one price - $75
VIP gift bags with hand-made wooden cutting board, culinary treats and early entry at noon - ALL for $100
 New red carpet photo booth fun
 Fabulous music, too!
 Silent auction featuring culinary treats, travel, recreational items and more.

Admission: $100 VIP, $75 General Admission + handling fee & HST

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stratford Dining and Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival

 Savour Stratford  Perth County Culinary Festival

The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival, presented by GE Café Appliances, will take place, on the weekend of July 18–20th 2014. Historically held in September, the event celebrates local cuisine, culinary luminaries, local artisanal producers and farmers and outstanding Stratford chefs. 
This year’s theme is Coast to Coast to Coast and the 30th Anniversary of the renowned Stratford Chef School. Meet some of the top young chefs under 40 from across Canada — from Newfoundland to the N.W.T. to B.C. — all award winners, many trained in Stratford, and others associated with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain. With over 150 chefs, farmers, producers, Ontario wineries and craft brewers, cheese makers and culinary personalities, the Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival is one of the largest culinary festivals in Ontario. 

Featured chefs will showcase their culinary expertise creating innovative Canadian cuisine, procured from Perth County farmers and producers.

Some of this years highlights will include: Chef Rich Francis who will be on hand with his contemporary take on modern aboriginal and Northern Canadian cuisine. Chef Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station’s purview is nose-to-tail cuisine while Chef Todd Perrin of Mallard Cottage will showcase his sea-to-table repertoire.  Dale Mackay of Ayden Kitchen and Bar, a protégé of chef Gordon Ramsay, pairs Saskatchewan lake fish with local produce. Paul Rogalski, of Calgary’s Rouge, will give a contemporary riff on the traditional soufflé while James Walt of Whistler’s Araxi, presents sustainable west coast seafood.

“Intimate Tutored Talks and Tastings” have culinary specialists discussing trends from foraged wild edibles to fermentation, preserving seafood, the pairing of craft beers and sampling Ontario wines.
The Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley is an open-air gathering along York Street with an afternoon of tastings along with wines, craft beers and cheese.

The piece de resistance is the Savour Stratford Grand Tasting, a stylish garden party on Sunday July 20th presented by Scotiabank in an elegant tent off historic York Street, fronting the Avon River, pairing 30 local chefs with local producers to create a selection of seasonal specialties accompanied by VQA wines and craft brews www.savourstratford.com 

Dining and Culinary Tour of Stratford

What draws me time and time again to Stratford — besides world class theatre and the fact that it is a great walking and biking town is the city’s vitality as an agriculture and culinary hub. Start you're walking tour of the downtown at the historic 12-sided red-brick City Hall built in 1899. Stroll the leafy streets and browse the charming shops as you explore the captivating town which exudes natural beauty. Stratford is full of stimulating and niche specialty shops situated on its heritage streetscapes or off the beaten path on side streets. The town has attractive outdoor gardens flanking the banks of the Avon River.
Among the city’s culinary assets is the presence of the venerated Stratford Chefs School, where students work with local culinary luminaries and chefs from across Canada and around the world. Culinary pros and alumni have stayed on in Stratford, adding innovation and prestige to the local culinary scene.

Savour Stratford has effectively supported Stratford and Perth County’s position as one of Ontario’s most unique and distinctive culinary regions. Collaborating and fostering individual relationships with  area farmers, artisans, chefs and the Stratford Chefs School to reinforce the awareness of sustainable agriculture and the local terroir has helped to create a culinary identity truly characteristic of the area.

A visit to Stratford for a few days has always been a perfect for a culinary getaway. You can experience Stratford’s and Perth County’s terroir at restaurants, cafés, food specialty shops, farmers’ markets, tutored tastings, epicurean treks and culinary walking tours.
A stopover in the area is not complete without a stay in one of the many hospitable inns or bed and breakfasts.

Stratford boasts a large number of agricultural resources and has been nurturing a local culinary heritage since 1832. Stratford Farmers’ Market is the year round market operating since 1855 at the Stratford Rotary Complex Agriplex.. 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. 7 am—12 pm every Saturday. The producer-based Farmers' and Artisans' Sunday Market returns to the historic Market Square behind Stratford’s City Hall each May.

Stratford  offers a charming group of independent cafés which are part grab-and-go, part bakery, and part casual dine-in restaurant with baristas that know how to pull a proper espresso. The quest of coffee drinkers for artisanal, small hand-batched roasts with diverse flavour profiles is unmatched.  Anne Campion’s Revel Café off the market square featuring Las Chicas Del Café and Slave to the Grind Stratford's quirky espresso bar - owned and democratically operated by Your Local Market Co-operative, are among my top picks for an outstanding caffeinated experience.

If your tastes run to the uber cool gadgets, gewgaws and gizmos or retro-inspired confectionery, be sure to visit the Small-Mart General Mercantile, a unique and delightful contemporary take on the old-style general store that has just relocated. Great places to grab a picnic lunch include: Janet Ashworth’s At The County Food Company on Erie Street. Ashworth’s philosophy is a simple concept: Seasonal local ingredients, gifted chefs, innovative selections and affordable dining. Pick and choose from a range of irresistible entrées and salads.

Chef Yva Santini’s Italian kitchen at Taverna Pazzo brings a new sensibility to Stratford’s main corner. Sustainable seafood such as oysters, crab and lobster make up the heart of this season’s menu, and are joined by house-made pastas and gnocchi, and locally-sourced meats and produce.

Check out the recently opened Pazzo Bambino next door for lighter fare and delicious grab-to-go options. Chef Sirka Sie is the talent behind the stunning food (and delectable zeppole) in the Pazzo Bambino. Co-owner Jeffrey Leney tells us that the new Pazzo Bambino, located in the former Pazzo Bakery, is essentially a food shop serving pizzas, sandwiches, antipasti, salads, Italian sweets, espresso drinks and focaccia with a focus on take-out. There are 30 seats for those who wish to dine in. Designer Ron Nuhn took the former bakery concept and blew it up, creating an operatic ambience and an exciting space. www.pazzo.ca

Monforte on Wellington: If you like ethical farm-to-table dining that won’t break the bank; Monforte on Wellington is the hands-down winner. The kitchen has developed a synergy between the local terroir and the diner, no doubt, inspired by Monforte Dairy founder and cheesemaker, Ruth Klahsen, whose deep-rooted affection for all things sustainable, local and artisanal seems to continue to both fortify and nourish her creative drive and innovative entrepreneurism. The restaurant is a casual seasonally –inspired osteria featuring an ever-changing selection of artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and pastas, salads, soups, preserves, pickles and other signature specialties, prepared by Monforte’s culinary team. The restaurant is BYOW with a corkage fee of $15.00, or if you order a glass of VQA wine they might bring you a full bottle and charge you for what you drink. There is an area at the front entrance that retails Monforte cheeses, Bauman honey, preserves and other interesting jarred goods- to- go. The kitchen is open to the dining room and there is a passageway beside the kitchen that leads to a 35-seat courtyard with umbrellaed tables for clandestine al fresco dining.

The Restaurant at The Bruce: The newly built and handsomely appointed 25-room Bruce Hotel, set on six and a half acres of property and a short walk from the Festival Theatre, is the third hospitality undertaking for Birmingham. The restaurant and the hotel are named after her father, Bruce, a former president of the Bank of Nova Scotia who passed away in 2010.
Word has it that Birmingham wooed Stratford culinary luminaries and owners of Bijou, Aaron and Bronwyn Linley, to join her at The Bruce. Aaron is the Executive Chef and Bronwyn is Food and Beverage Manager. Aaron’s resume comprises sous chef positions at Rundles in Stratford, Scaramouche in Toronto, Maple Bistro in Halifax with Chef Michael Smith, and chef at Le Nouveau Parigo in Toronto. Bronwyn’s pastry chef and sommelier experience includes Stratford’s Pazzo and Down the Street, Pan Chancho bakery in Kingston and pastry chef at Maple Bistro and Biff’s in Toronto.
Returning to Stratford in 2001, the Linley’s opened Bijou. What has made Chef Linley’s cooking unforgettable is the brilliance of his regionally-sourced ingredients paired with multi-cultural elements. For many years his culinary opus at Bijou was the standard for inspired, locally-procured food in Stratford. The Restaurant at The Bruce is positioned to be a contender in the uppermost tier of Stratford fine dining: the venerable Neil Baxter at Rundles and the enigmatic Bryan Steele at The Prune, (which, sadly, is closed for lunch this season), both have restaurant pedigrees that run deeper than Linley’s.

There are two rooms that comprise The Restaurant and entry is through the clubby lounge. The dining rooms are white linen, chic and understated with square-backed upholstered chairs and settees. This is contemporary elegance and indeed Linley’s menus are loaded with ingredients that term evokes. Chef has dispensed with the main-course concept and offers a small-plates menu at dinner. Lunch is à la carte. There is an expectation of a particular level of care in a restaurant befitting a well-run luxury hotel. Among the hotel’s amenities are a gym and an indoor pool. (Rooms are $500.00 and “petit” suites are $650.00 per night and include a sumptuous prix fixe breakfast. Some have private courtyards.)

Chef Linley describes his cuisine as “Nouveau Ontario,” using French technique and ethnic influences “applied to the good things of this province.” The menu is prix fixe, offering two Beginnings and Dessert for $58.00, one Beginning and Middle for $58.00, or a Beginning, Middle and Dessert for $68.00. This arrangement is meant to expedite the challenges of pre-theatre dining where theatre-goers arrive and depart simultaneously and later, there is a respite. There is also a 5 course tasting menu available after 7:30 pm for $80.00 per person, and only available to an entire table. The Lounge offers a separate menu.  www.thebruce.ca

Mercer Hall: The restaurant at Mercer Hall Inn offers chef-inspired artisanal food and drink featuring local cuisine, Ontario focused wines and house-infused cocktails. Mercer Hall was recently included in the 2014 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, as determined by a roster of chefs, food industry professionals, connoisseurs, and travel and food writers. 
Lead by chefs Tim Larsen and  Sean Collins, (you might remember Collins– as head chef at Pazzo), the culinary duo draws its inspiration from a local, seasonal items with quality ingredients sourced in Quebec, both Canadian coasts and the best of Europe. The menu is primarily Ontario focused with a European sensibility. The hospitable Jesse Larsen, an alumnus from the Conestoga College Hospitality program who also happens to be married to Tim, runs front of the house.

Regional specialities and local ingredients abound on the Mercer Hall menus and include addictive house-made salumi and other gourmet charcuterie which are found on the ploughman’s board at lunch and the charcuterie board on both the "Nosh" menu and the evening prix fixe. After all, Perth County pork is legendary. This is the home of the Pork Congress.

A charming wooden bread board of classic air-dried cured meats include: thin slices of perfect fat-to-meat coppa (pig’s head), paper-thin slices of Andalucían-inspired loma (pork loin), and Mark and Vicky Lass’s Churchill Farms distinctively flavoured prosciutto. (The Lass’s specialize in humanely raised, pasture fed, free-range pork, beef, lamb and poultry.) The charcuterie is accompanied by pickled vegetables, piccalilli, shavings of Montforte Dairy’s Toscano pecorino and a sous vide egg. When the perfectly cooked egg is punctured with a fork it releases a river of perfect protein-rich golden liquid.

Other pork products on the menu include Fred and Ingrid De Martines’ succulent Tamworth pork belly confit served with braised chard, broth and pickled mustard seed. There is also roasted Marrow bone served with crostini and butcher’s salad.
Signature dishes together with contemporary interpretations of classics have resulted in a varied menu of tastes, temperatures, textures and influences. Mercer Mac and Cheese is a combination of cheddar and parmigiano infused béchamel, cornbread crumble, onion marmalade. Colonel Collins' Fried Chicken for two: boneless thighs, southern style kale, cornbread, apple and cabbage slaw with Mercer house-made hot sauce, gravy and house-cut fries. 108 Ontario Street; 519 271-1888 www.mercerhall.ca 

Bijou Restaurant: The entrance to Bijou is hidden in plain view behind a block of Wellington Street buildings with ivy-covered brick walls located in a laneway off the Erie Street’s municipal parking lot, next to the Queen’s Hotel. There is an iron gate and a canopied black door at the front entrance of the restaurant. The exterior sign is an unobtrusive copper and metal graphic. Bijou’s inconspicuousness is part of its allure.
Bijou’s culinary philosophy embraces the ideology of local and seasonal; however, the kitchen puts its own characteristic stamp on the ever-changing chalkboard menu. The Bijou culinary oeuvre may be representative of the local terroir, but Asian, French and Italian culinary influences, which involve techniques as well as ingredients, redefine convention. The kitchen shines when it is expressing the nuances of the local terroir.
The food at Bijou is modern, never predictable, and the offerings evolve to highlight seasonal ingredients and the best local food procurement available. The restaurant provides a good “local” taste experience. The restaurant was an early proponent of cultivating personal relationships with farmers and suppliers and showcasing Perth County products and ingredients. 105 Erie Street; 519.273.5000; www.bijourestaurant.com

The Prune: Three chic rooms in a heritage home overlooking a courtyard provide a sublime setting for one of the consistently best dining experiences in the city. Chef Bryan Steele serves up contemporary seasonally -inspired cuisine. Steele’s menu items celebrate local and regional producers and growers. The influences of disparate world cuisines alongside traditional French recipes create interesting juxtapositions designed to enrich and enliven your dining experience. An intelligent wine program showcases boutique vintages from local and international growers. In the aim of broadening Chef Steele's cooking style to a larger audience, the Prune is featuring a new prixe fixe menu with a lower, more accessible price point and an expanded selection of offerings. It is their intention to continue to maintain the standard of high quality that the Prune has been renowned for the past 34 years. May to October 151 Albert Street; 519.271.5052 www.theprune.com

Pazzo Taverna: Taverna at Pazzo’s street-level ristorante proffers rustic Italian-inspired cuisine in a contemporary setting. Chef Yva Santini’s menu offerings feature local ingredients and products working in conjunction with regional producers to offer seasonality to the dining experience. Sustainable crustaceans and bivalves paired with house-made pastas and gnocchi alongside locally-sourced meat. (Who can forget her Red Fife cavatelli?) Think gnocchi with baccala, cream, lemon and black pepper or silky braised beef cheeks with polenta sweet bell peppers and gremolata. An early May lunch reveals they are still at the top of the game after 17 years. 70 Ontario Street; 519.273.6666; www.pazzo.ca   

Down the Street: Susan Dunfield’s Down the Street is Stratford’s late-night hot spot with high-energy casual bistro dining. Their open kitchen features Chef Lee Avigdor’s seasonal menus, which showcase local and organic ingredients. The restaurant features a VQA award-wining wine list and a good selection of local craft and imported beers. A premiere table overlooks the Avon River and there is also a charming street-side patio. 30 Ontario Street; 519.273.5886; www.downthestreet.ca

Little Red’s Pub and Eatery in St. Mary’s: Chris and Mary Woolf have returned to St. Marys, at 159 Queen Street. Little Red’s Pub and Eatery opened in mid- February. Chris and Mary Woolf always made a sojourn to the former Woolfy’s well worth the drive. The Woolf’s have been true pioneers when it comes to supporting culinary regionalism: dedicated and loyal supporters of the area’s farmers, artisans, sustainable and organic producers for two decades. Chris was re-interpreting culture-specific culinary specialties with homegrown ingredients long before the term “local” became part of our culinary lexicon.  www.little reds.ca

The Savour Stratford Maple Trail is the third in Stratford’s culinary trail offers. This self-guided tour presents 10 maple-inspired stops with offerings that range from aged maple balsamic vinegar, to a maple-smoked bacon BLT and a maple chai latte. If you are looking for chocolate there is a Chocolate Trail—a self-guided tour of local sweet and savoury treats much like the maple trail or bacon and ale trail. You can purchase a pass in person at the Stratford Tourism Alliance. The $25 pass includes tickets that entitle you to choose 6 of the 20 stops you would like to visit. Be sure to stop at Chocolate Barr’s Candies, Rheo Thompson, and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Chocolate Barrs has relocated from 136 Ontario Street to 55 George Street West (formerly The Sun Room restaurant). www.chocolatebarrs.com

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Downtown London Dining Guide


119 King Street  519- 675-9995 www.abruzzi.ca

Chef Dave Lamers and co-owner Rob D’Amico work with local farmers and growers to source products that boast both integrity and flavour and then incorporate these seasonal offerings into Abruzzi’s Italian-inspired menus. A superior wine list features plenty of exciting consignments. Windows that open to the street make the indoor to outdoor dining experience feel unified.


Amici Italian Restaurant

350 Dundas Street 519-439-8983 www.amicieatery.com

Chef Paul Krohn’s small and attractive Alto Adige-inspired trattoria located in the downtown hotel district serves traditional “rustic” Italian specialties with quality ingredients. The intimate dining room fills up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation. Small seasonal patio.  


Armouries Grille / Delta London Armouries Hotel

325 Dundas Street   519 679 6111 www.armouriesgrille.ca

The Armouries Grille restaurant offers casual fine dining at its best in the heart of one of the historic hotels atria. This is a full service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch or dinner, as well as an outstanding Sunday brunch buffet.


Black Trumpet

523 Richmond Street (South of Kent Street) 519- 850- 1500 www.blacktrumpet.ca

Chef has a contemporary take on international classics, drawing from local and seasonal ingredients to create time-honoured offerings. The vaulted ceilings, towering centre-hearth fireplace and detailed craftsmanship create a warm ambiance. Enjoy the exotic terraced courtyard for al fresco dining. Several private dining rooms are perfect for corporate functions, with full multimedia facilities. Closed Sunday


Blu Duby

32 Covent Market Place 519- 433- 1414 www.bluduby.com

Chef combines comfort food classics with modern European, Asian and Mediterranean twists. This is comfort cuisine in upmarket surroundings with a nod to hip, but not a speck of pretension. Owners Joe and Cheryl Duby feature a well thought out wine list offering a variety of price points. Private Dining Available

Braywick Bistro

244 Dundas Street (across from Central Library) 519- 645- 6524 www.braywickbistro.ca

 Anissa and Barry Foley and Chef Steven Higgins have upped the ante and elevated the bistro’s menus. A stylish interior with warm tones punctuating the serene, gently-lit interior provides a welcoming oasis. Signature dishes include the ubiquitous (in this case newly gluten-free) Pad Thai.

Budapest Dining Room & Tavern

348 Dundas Street 519- 439- 3431 www.oo5.com/bpr

The Budapest is a local treasure with red velvet, chandeliers, crystal and old world charisma. Doyenne Marika Hayek has been delighting patrons with her risqué repartee and dependably great Hungarian specialities in this traditional old- world tavern setting for 56 years. Comfy street side patio.


The Church Key Bistro Pub

476 Richmond Street (across from The Grand Theatre) 519- 936- 0960 www.thechurchkey.ca

This is a top-notch cooking and Chef Michael Anglestad has a repertoire of flavours that are big, brash and rustic but thoroughly cosmopolitan. Pastry Chef Cliff Briden is also at the top of his game. Best of all owners Vanessa and Pete Willis’s haven’t overlooked its roots as a place for locals to meet and imbibe. An intimate outdoor courtyard borders the south side of the building.


Che Restobar

225 Dundas Street (at Clarence) 519-601-7999 www.cherestobar.ca

Marvin Rivas has designed an atmosphere that sends exactly the right message about Che: it is sexy and urbane, and casual and spontaneous, but it's personable, too, and the core commitment to authentic cuisine isn't blasé in the least. The menu blends tradition and ingenuity in true Latin American style and is influenced by Chef German Nunez’s and Rivas’s culinary heritage.


David's Bistro

432 Richmond Street (at Carling) 519- 667- 0535 www.davidsbistro.ca

David Chapman and Chef Elvis Drennan present a stolid array of classic French favourites. The dishes are so virtuous, in such a French way it's almost impossible to believe you're not in France. The bistro with its tiny bar, vibrant red walls and black-checked tablecloths is a venerated downtown dining destination. There is a sensibly priced, extensive and ever-changing consignment wine selection and interesting VQA’s


 Garlic's of London

481 Richmond Street (beside The Grand Theatre) 519- 432- 4092 www.garlicsoflondon.com

Proponents of farm-to-table cuisine, Owner Edo Pehji, Manager Emma Pratt, Chef Chad Stewart and their culinary team offer intelligent and ethically informed menu choices. Garlic’s combines all the elements of a perennial favourite - as delicious, affordable, top-of-the-line, rustic cooking using seasonal and high quality ingredients.

Gozen Bistro Sushi and Grill

219 Queens Ave. (at Clarence) 519- 858- 9998 www.gozenbistro.com

Jun Hwang’s Gozen has a menu of Japanese sushi and Korean specialties. Signatures include: sashimi, soft shell crab tempura;  bimbim bap the traditional dinner-in-a-bowl – with freshly– cooked crispy rice in the bottom of the stone pot served with julienned  vegetables and mung bean sprouts; and bulgogi wrap with marinated beef, rice and gochujang sauce

Kantina Café & Restaurant

349 Talbot Street 519- 672- 5862 www.kantina.ca

This is some of the most strikingly realized and highly characterised cutting-edge cuisine imbued with farm-to-table ideals around. Owner Miljan Karac and Chef Danijel “Dacha” Markovic reinterpret classic Balkan –inspired cooking with a fresh twist in their chic but casual downtown London restaurant. Chef takes pains to ensure his cuisine bears the marks of authenticity of the hands that made it.

La Casa Ristorante

117 King Street (across from Covent Garden Market) 519- 434-2272 lacasaristorante.com

Chef Scott Sanderson’s menus are rooted in the authentic Italian tradition. All the classics of Italian culinary canon are on the virtuous menu —prepared from scratch with skill. Consistency and familiarity are the hallmarks of the La Casa culinary experience. Signature dishes like: risotto al salto, house-made angel hair pasta with sautéed shrimp and lobster tagliolini are masterworks.

London Grill &JJ Keys Lounge/Hilton Hotel London

The London Hilton embraces the Hilton’s high standards for quality service and superbly prepared and presented menu choices in both the casual Market Café and the elegant London Grill. The accent is on quality ingredients, freshness and exceeding guest’s expectations. 300 King St., 439-1661


Marienbad Restaurant

122 Carling Street (at Talbot) 519- 679- 9940 www.marienbad.ca

Marienbad brings authentic European culture to downtown dining, in a casual atmosphere. The kitchen evokes eastern and central Europe with its skill for that perfect marriage of sweet and sour time-honoured specialties. There is an exceptional steak tartare and a variety of signature schnitzels.  A black iron fence, flower boxes, and comfortable tables with festive umbrellas add charm to the inviting side walk patio.


Massey's Fine Indian Cuisine

174 King Street (near Richmond) 519-672-2989 www.masseys.ca

Chef/owner of Patison Massey and his business partner and spouse Anisha, seem to be always on hand.. Chef shows his expertise with his dazzling way with spices bestowing and building flavors to great effect. A variety of vegetarian offerings and classic favourites like: smoky-spiced baingan patiala, everything tandoori, butter chicken, nann, and various exotic accompaniments.


Michael’s on-the-Thames

1 York Street (at the bridge) 519- 672- 0111 www.michaelsonthethames.com

For thirty years and counting, Michael’s on-the-Thames has been regarded as London’s ‘celebration destination’ and for good reason. Owner-operator Brian Stewart, general manager Joelle Lees, executive Chef Denis Clavette and their polished staff gives its patrons what they want, consistently. The restaurant has been smartly refurbished to create a renewed sense of comfort and well-being.


Moxie's Classic Grill

441 Richmond Street (at Dufferin) 519- 936- 0745 www.moxies.ca

The Moxie's atmosphere provides an upscale casual dining experience and attentive service.  The extensive menu provides a variety of steaks, sandwiches, hamburgers, pastas and rice, as well as various other mains, salads and starters.


Raja Fine Indian Cuisine

428 Clarence St. (North of Dundas) 519-601-7252 rajaindiancuisine.ca

The Raja serves fine Indian cuisine in refined and elegant surroundings by a knowledgeable, deferential and well-trained staff. The dining room has character and sophistication with its marble floors, deep red painted walls and white accents.


Tamarine by Quynh Nhi

118 Dundas Street 519- 601- 8276 www.tamarine.ca

Chef’s Quyhn and Nhi’s modern Vietnamese menus are cleverly balanced, with a gentle rhythm between strong and subtle flavours uniting both colour and texture. The stylish dining room is so warm and embracing, it's hard not to think you're in a cocoon.


Tanakaya Japanese Restaurant

130 King Street 519-850-8838 www.coventmarket.com/merchants/tanakaya/

Nestled into the Market Lane side of Covent Garden Market this tiny restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem. Offering a selection of made-to-order sushi rolls, sashimi, teriyaki, tempura and traditional bento box selections.  Use patio entrance on Market Lane when the market is closed.


Thaifoon Restaurant

120 Dundas Street (East of Talbot) 519- 850- 1222 www.thaifoonrestaurant.com

Hospitable proprietors Alex and Eddy Phimprhrachanh set themselves apart with bang-on aromatic specialties from the Thai culinary canon and with their keen eye for detail and presentation. The minimalist room is sleek, with a sexy, upbeat soundtrack, rich dark woods and ultra-soft leather banquettes.


The Only on King

172 King Street, 519 936 2064 www.theonlyonking.ca

Possessing a superior grasp on the tenets of terroir and sustainability, chef/owner Paul Harding’s cooking is faultless. The Only on King, with its farm-to-table philosophy and culinary repertoire is a master class in modern comfort cooking. Brunch


The River Room Café and Private Dining

Museum London, Ridout St.N. 519 850 2287 www.northmoore.ca/theriverroom/

Panoramic views and the tailored simplicity and elegance of the River Room make it breathtaking.  Jess Jazey-Spoelstra’s kitchen has a deserved reputation for the quality of the ingredients and the knowledgeable and expressive exuberance of the preparations. Open Tues.–Fri., from 11 am. to 4 pm. and Sunday for Brunch. Museum London, Ridout St.N. 519 850 2287 www.northmoore.ca/theriverroom/


The Tasting Room

483 Richmond Street 519- 438- 6262 www.thetastingroom.ca

Chef Paul Eadie’s menus are a veritable hit parade of current trends and updated classics. Lively tapas bars were the inspiration for this restaurant. Menus are a mixture of up-to-the-minute trends and updated classics. Small plates are the main focus and the list is extensive. Wine tasting flights are divided into four, 2-ounce glasses of red or white. 483 Richmond Street, 519 438 6262 www.thetastingroom.ca

Villa Resto Lounge

109 Dundas Street  519 601 8890 www.villarestolounge.com

Located across from the Budweiser Gardens, the mid-century art deco style building with its striking marble and stone exterior is the perfect backdrop to Villa's exquisite decor. The modern interior showcases the warmth of wood juxtaposed against the sleekness of stainless steel and polished concrete.

Waldo's on King Bistro and Wine Bar

130 King Street (Covent Garden Market) 519 433 6161 www.waldos.on.ca

Mark Kitching’s kitchen brigade offer definitive bistro-style selections. There's a comforting trajectory with this kind of reliable fare, dependably good appetizers to a fresh spin on classic entrée favourites. This is where you will find the best “organic” burger in town. Outdoor  patio.

Taste of India

182 York St., (just east of Richmond) 519 667 1207 www.letseat.at/TasteofIndia

Northern Indian style cuisine including Tandoori and standard curry dishes, along with emblematic staples like: pakoras, samosas, bhaji, and kebabs. Daily for dinner across from the Via Rail station.


Ben Thanh Viet Thai Restaurant

This popular Vietnamese/Thai restaurant boasts many vegetarian options at reasonable prices.
Skilled chefs will prepare your meal fresh when ordered with high quality ingredients. Indulge your
taste buds in authentic herbs and spices in a relaxing and casual environment.

57 York Street, 519-438-4888


Billy's Downtown Deli

Jeff and Sandi Harvey’s Billy’s Deli on Dundas Street has been a popular downtown landmark for more than thirty years. For lunch, classic deli offerings like the quintessential Reuben and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. Interesting daily blackboard features. Billy’s has a stellar reputation for its seasonal pies.  113 Dundas Street 519-679-1970 www.billysdelirestaurant.ca

Cornerstone Sushi Ya

440 Clarence Street 519- 936- 2869 www.sushiyalondon.com

This is a charming little restaurant with friendly owners and an unpretentious atmosphere. A variety of made to order sushi and sashimi are the highlights of this menu, along with bento box specials and other Japanese specialities.  


Curry Garden

346 Richmond Street (Between King and York) 519- 850- 5678 www.currygardenrestaurant.ca

Curry Garden has been offering traditional Indian food in downtown London since 1997. They offer a varied selection of vegetarian and meat dishes, all made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and time-honoured methods. Daily lunch buffet, eat in, take out or delivery.


Kings Inn Diner

186 King Street 519- 438- 8600

Tucked beside the entrance to the King’s Inn, this popular two- level 60's style diner has a good short-order kitchen and can boast cheerful and fast service. The food is old-school/ restaurant-style fare, filling, reasonably priced and with few embellishments.


Mascot Restaurant

172 Dundas Street (near Richmond) 519-434-9031 www.mascotrestaurant.com

Established and still operated by brothers Peter, Theodoros and Elias Vergiris -- the Mascot is a family-run restaurant that has relied on a loyal clientele of regulars for 43 years. The menu is anchored by Greek dishes like souvlaki, Greek salad and roast lamb, there's also an offering of classic diner fare like steak, omelettes and western sandwiches.



436 Clarence Street 519 434-8242

Cathy Walsh’s Nooner’s has had a bustling lunch crowd for 28 years. The spot wins big points for its fast and healthy selection of soups, salads, sandwiches and features like quiche and shepherd’s pie. The eatery tucked back in its own alley sports 75 seats indoors and a patio, both well-used.


Spageddy Eddy's

428 Richmond St. 645-3002 www.spageddyeddys.ca

Tucked into Artisan's Alley off Richmond Street, this small, eclectic restaurant offers large portions that exceed most people’s expectations. Along with a variety of pasta dishes, there are soups and salads. This inexpensive pasta bar is popular with budget conscious students.


The Works (Works Burger)

145 King Street (across from the Covent Garden Market) 519- 601- 5464 www.worksburger.com

The Works is downtown London’s ultimate gourmet burger bistro, based on the Ottawa chain. There are over 60 burger variations on offer. Hand-pressed 100% Canadian beef as well as many vegetarian varieties.


Cantata Lounge

325 Dundas Street 519- 679- 6111 www.armouriesgrille.ca

The Cantata Lounge crowns the top of one of the Delta Armouries live atriums in the heart of their historical building. Relax in the comfortable atmosphere with friends, watch the big game or don’t miss an episode of your favourite show.


Chaucers Pub

122 Carling Street (at Talbot) 519- 679-9940 www.marienbad.ca

Chaucer’s is one of downtowns foremost beer pubs, located in a heritage building connected to the Marienbad Restaurant. The two establishments share a menu that reflects the mixture of history and culture that is Central Europe. The comfortable and cozy pub pays homage to Olde England and is known for an impressive selection of single malt scotches and selection of beers.


Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill

376 Dundas Street (at Wellington), 519- 645- 4880

Good Food...Good Fun....Bad Temper!! Open until 2 am everyday with full tap and grill menu. This is casual, family- friendly dining.


FitzRay's Restaurant and Lounge

110 Dundas Street 519-646- 1112 www.fitzrays.com

Located across the street from the Budweiser Gardens, makes it a convenient spot for their unique take on classic bar fare or drinks before an event. The patio is an industry favourite. “The staff is the lifeblood of FitzRays. They make you feel at home, and treat you like you just walked into your best friend’s house.”  


Fox and Fiddle

Celebrating over 20 years of delicious pub fare! The short answer is that they are merchants of fine pub fare. They work hard at creating a warm, cozy, yet vibrant atmosphere where you can meet great friends and enjoy superior entertainment, excellent service, food quality and a great selection of domestic and imported draught beer at a reasonable price. It's the place to have a game of darts or pool, watch your favourite sporting event.


London Ale House

The London Ale House has a huge selection of beers - local, from around the world draught, bottled and ciders. Menu items are prepared in-house, from scratch - even the condiments, using beers and ciders with each of their menu items. There is a delightful back garden patio with a huge projection television screen. 288 Dundas Street (Across from Delta Armouries Hotel) 519 204-2426


Milos' Craft Beer Emporium

This is London’s premier craft beer destination, owned and operated by renowned publican Milos Kral. Chef Matt Reijnen prepares menus that reflect their farm-to-table commitment and passion for everything local. Kral offers 23 micros on tap with excellent style variation. The pub has an open tap room layout with large projector screens that display all of the draughts on offer. Craft beer enthusiasts have made this local landmark part of Ontario’s rich craft beer culture.


Poacher's Arms

Poacher's Arms is London's oldest pub. True to the pub convention, they offer solid hearty food, prepared to order at accessible prices. Poacher's is especially proud of its reputation for their award-winning barbecue sauce and ribs. 171 Queens Avenue


Scot's Corner

London’s home for live soccer, Scot’s Corner serves up a variety of beers on tap and a diverse menu that includes all-day breakfast, classic pub favourites, burgers and sandwiches.

268 Dundas Street (near Wellington) 519 667 2277



347 Clarence Street 519-858-9900  www.apk.ca.

Elaine Knight and Joan Brenann’s  APK fosters local and indie talent, from alt rock, metal, punk and folk, to genres so specific they have no names. There are acts playing most evenings. They feature 10 draft taps, a large selection of bottled domestic and premium beers and monthly drink specials.


The Black Shire Pub

511 Talbot Street 519-433-7737 www.blackshirepub.ca

Ingredients are sourced locally to create pub fare which consists of updated comfort foods that are simple, seasonal and familiar. This dynamic community music pub is popular with the arts crowd and draws a variety of patrons, for its selection of craft beer and fresh food offerings. You will find 17 taps on the main coffin and another three in their second floor lounge.


The Early Bird

355 Talbot Street 519-439-6483 www.theearlybird.ca

Gregg and Justin Wolfe’s Early Bird is King and Talbot’s red-hot, retro diner with casual farm-to-table cooking. The Early Bird has a quirky charm and a hotchpotch menu of updated retro diner classics and new generation comfort foods. Signature dishes include: the king-sized “turducken club” sandwich. You can’t get much more hip-but-earthy than the Early Bird Diner.

The Morrissey House

359 Dundas St., 519- 204- 9220  www.themorrisseyhouse.com

Publican Marc Serré’s Morrissey House with its unique selection of beers and innovative pub food is a welcoming, warm and cozy local. Chef Andrew Harris offers a menu that is comfortable and accessible but with a twist. Almost everything is mad in house from scratch. There is al fresco dining on their popular 60-seat patio

The Rocks on King Bar and Grill

93 King Street 519-204-4044 www.therocksonking.com

Menus feature upscale bar fare that they create in house from scratch. The atmosphere embraces a stylish, upscale dining experience with contemporary decor accompanied by friendly service. A rooftop patio facing the Budweiser Gardens accommodates 60 with great seating and lighting.

Rock au Taco

The new brain child of The Wolfe Brothers,  Rock au Taco located next door to the Early Bird Diner is serving up delicious and authentic tacos and Mexican cuisine, ice cold cervezas, and smooth tequila.
This is street food or classic comfort-club grub.

Jewel of India

Since 1985, Jewel of India has been serving up a blend of fresh spices and delectably good curries. Whether you’re craving a fiery vindaloo, a classic korma, or one of their other speciality Tandoori or curry dishes, the food is guaranteed to put some spice in your life. The restaurant offers a variety of popular appetizers, pilaf, curries, and vegetarian and meat-based dishes spiced to suit your palate, from mild to hot. 390 Richmond Street (south of Dundas) 519 434 9268


Icarus Resto Bar (opening 2014)

Zen Gardens

344 Dundas Street (at Waterloo) 519- 433- 6688 www.zen-garden.ca

Zen Garden’s creative kitchen serves the best healthy vegetarian meals that you can imagine, in an upscale, tranquil atmosphere. Even meat substitutes are made from natural ingredients and spices; absolutely no chemicals or preservatives.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Tomato Linguine with Black Tiger Shrimp and Tarragon-Pistachio Pesto

Tomato Linguine with Black Tiger Shrimp


½ lb. fresh tomato linguine or 3/4 lb. dried linguine
3 tbsp. olive oil
24 large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of scallions (green onions) sliced thinly
tarragon-pistachio pesto
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. If using fresh pasta, the cooking time will only be three to four minutes. If using dry pasta it will be approximately 10 to 12 minutes or according to instructions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute shrimp until no longer pink (about a minute).

Add the lemon juice, white wine and mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms are just tender.

Drain pasta. Toss with shrimp mixture, pesto and green onions.  Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Serve with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tarragon-Pistachio Pesto


1 cup fresh tarragon leaves
3 large garlic cloves
1/3  cup ground pistachio
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor combine the tarragon, garlic, pistachio and cheese. Process until combined.

With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until desired consistency is reached.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Store in covered glass jar until ready to use.

Chicken Liver Pate

Bryan’s La Cucina Chicken Liver Pate         

1 lb. chicken livers, cleaned
½ lb. unsalted butter, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp sage leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup Marsala
¼ cup 35% cream
½ tsp salt
½ tsp whole black peppercorns, roughly smashed
½ tsp fennel seeds, optional

450g chicken livers, cleaned
225g unsalted butter, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp sage leaves, finely chopped
75ml Marsala
75ml 35% cream
½ tsp salt
½ tsp whole black peppercorns, roughly smashed
½ tsp fennel seeds, optional

Cut the livers into small pieces, and heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, sage, fruit and soften, then turn up the heat to medium-high, add the chicken livers and sauté until browned on the outside but still pink inside. Blend in the food processor.

Add the Marsala to the pan and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Pour into the food processor, add the cream, salt and spices and whizz until smooth. Melt the butter and pour on into the mixture,
adding only as the previous addition is absorbed. Process again. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Chill for an hour.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Championing Local and the Farm to Table Movement in Ontario


I am a dedicated reader of Sarah Elton, who tracks the culinary zeitgeist for CBC Radio’s Here and Now, and has written for The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Maclean’s and TheAtlantic.com. Her book, Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians are Changing the Way We Eat, was an award-winning treatise on the local food movement in Canada.

In Ontario, many cooks continue to develop imaginative takes on farm-to-table eating while examining the roots of local cuisine and developing new region-specific specialties and products. They characterize the frontline of the contemporary culinary scene by rethinking the food chain, stewarding the environment and adding their voices to the collective Canadian culinary identity.

Elton’s latest book, Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet, champions the movement away from global food production and presents an intelligent and engaging argument for the sustainable food movement and alternatives to the factory farming model. She travels to rural farming villages in India and China, to France, and to Detroit’s inner-city to document the transformative nature of food. This is an up-to-the-minute account of the politics and issues surrounding sustainable food production, food security and locavorism that offers some solutions.

When I go out to eat, I am drawn to restaurants that support local farmers and food artisans by procuring and featuring local ingredients, products and VQA wines. Patronizing farm-to-table restaurants makes sense because it supports and sustains economic activity on a local level.

Ontario has developed the Local Food Strategy to help increase the profile, access to, and demand for local food. The foundations of this strategy are the newly approved Local Food Act, and the recently launched Local Food Fund. 

The Local Food Act is part of a strategy to build Ontarios economy and agri-food sector by making more local food available in educational institutions, cafeterias, grocery stores, markets and restaurants. Its objective is to improve local food literacy, and encourage the demand for homegrown food, by requiring the Ministry to establish aspirational local food goals and targets in consultation with stakeholders that have an interest. The Act creates a non-refundable tax credit of 25 per cent for farmers who donate their surplus harvest to eligible community food programs such as food banks. The policy also proclaims a Local Food Week that will take place annually, beginning the first Monday in June.A reference point for defining local was created with the passing of the Local Food Act and when the Ministry of Agriculture and Food committed funding to support the development of Ontario’s new Foodservice Designation Program (OFD) in partnership with the Ontario Culinary Alliance (OCTA). The program entitled Feast ON has similarities to the former Savour Ontario Dining program, which brought together diners and restaurants who share an interest in choosing and serving locally grown and produced foods in Ontario.

The new OFD Program is a criteria-based designation system, designed to increase the profile and demand for local food by identifying restaurateurs and foodservice operators dedicated to procuring and serving Ontario foods and beverages and whose particular attributes qualify their commitment to local food. Feast ON has engaged Community Connecters to support the objectives of the program by working with OCTA to gather data required to implement, manage and safeguard the OFD program criteria.

Feast ON recognizes foodservice businesses committed to showcasing Ontario grown and produced food and drink. Restaurant operations in all their incarnations — from food trucks to fine dining — sourcing a minimum of 25% Ontario food products and 25% beverage products will be certified with the Feast ON seal, assuring consumers an “authentic” taste of Ontario.

In addition to the Feast ON strategy, the ministry is determining how they can differentiate, classify and market Ontario’s terroir and authentic regional products. It seems a new provincial designation system will likely include a geographic indicator certification.

This type of certification is an assurance that products possess certain qualities, are made according to traditional methods, or possess particular characteristics, due to terroir or geographical origin. Ideally, certification would be similar to the European Union-adopted systems of geographical indications and traditional specialties, and our existing VQA structure of classification for wine.

The purpose of certification is to safeguard the character and reputation of authentic foods, promote rural and agricultural activity, help producers obtain the best price for their regional products, and eliminate the misrepresentation to consumers by imitators and counterfeit products.

Asiago, Feta, Fontina, Gorgonzola and Munster are the five new cheese names that that Canada has recently approved to identify for its geographic indications as part of a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. Existing producers won’t be affected but any new cheese names introduced will need to be qualified with descriptors such as “style,” “kind” or “type.”

It seems to me that several of Ontario’s premier artisanal cheese makers have successfully differentiated their distinctive products with names based on each cheese’s unique characteristics, geographic, and cultural attributes by thinking in terms of terroir.  

In Italy, certification laws require that Parmigiano-Reggiano be made according to a specific recipe and production methods, and only within specific geographical regions. The Parmigiano-Reggiano Safeguarding Consorzio pursued a company in Mexico that blatantly named its product Parmigiano- Reggiano and affixed on it identical symbols and indications to those registered as collective marks by the Consorzio.

I have witnessed first-hand the perfect example of the certification process from start to finish. I arrived early to tour one of the cheese dairy co-operatives in the countryside of the strictly designated “zona tipica” of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Italy, to watch the cheese being crafted.

The milk from the previous evening had been left overnight to separate and a portion of the cream had been skimmed off. The remaining milk was mixed with the morning’s whole milk, and then poured into large, temperature-regulated copper cauldrons. Fermenting whey from the previous day was added and the mixture heated and slowly stirred.

When the desired temperature was achieved, calves rennet (a natural coagulating extract) was added. The coagulated milk became cheese curd, the leftover liquid whey. (The remaining whey not used in the next production will be used to imbue local pigs with the unique flavour that has distinguished this region for its exceptional variety of protected Italian air-cured meats, most notably Prosciutto di Parma).

Next a large, ball-shaped thorn brush was employed to fracture the curd. Again the curd was heated and stirred. With the heat shut off, the curd set. This mass was maneuvered with paddles and cut into two identical pieces, each with enough curd to make a wheel of cheese.

The curd was then wrapped in hemp cloth and suspended above the cauldrons to dry. Later the curd was lowered into a circular wooden form, where it was pressed into a wheel.  With the cloth removed, a stamp with teeth was inserted between the cheese and the mould. The teeth form a series of impressions, denoting authenticity with date and the designation Parmigiano-Reggiano.

After resting, the cheese is immersed in vats of brine and left to float. It is rotated daily for 25 days and briefly exposed to the sun before being stored. The cheese is warehoused on vast wooden shelves in climate-sensitive aging rooms, and turned over mechanically while it matures for a minimum of 18 months.

Watching this process convinced me that there is a need for geographic indicators and certification to help protect, differentiate and authenticate our distinctly unique and traditional products now and in the future.