TORONTO, ONTARIO CANADA
Real Fine Food
Going north from Texas in August is always going to be a cool endeavor. Yes, there was a fall chill in the Toronto air but the city itself was also très cool. Clean, calm and friendly.
A city of 4 million people, it certainly has the capacity to be as anxious as New York, as grimy as Chicago or as aloof as any other big city but it wasn't.
I did a call on social media before my trip for Torontonian farm-to-table, seasonal and veg-forward restaurants, vegetarian and vegan spots,farmers markets and actual farms.
From the shout outs and advice I got back, I reached out to various places and set up meetings to talk, taste and learn.
Toronto spots I hit :
Plan B Organic Farm, Evergreen Brickworks Farmers Market, Maman, Miss Thing's, Cluny, Public Kitchen / Doug McNish, Kasa Moto, Cafe Crepe, Dandylion, Grasslands, Cameron House, Kops Records, Cherry Cola, Horsehoe Tavern
Below...my finds in detail.
Maman's first location in New York City was an instant success. Not hard to see why this location # 2 was called out as a place to visit during my stay. A French restaurant in the heart of downtown run by French folks who love the simplicity of good, real food...
• Menu changes daily according to best available ingredients
• Items WILL run out because they strive to make just enough and not waste
• All baked goods made in-house, daily
• Family recipes
• Fresh daily menu keeps the kitchen creative and the customers happy
MY FAVE :
• Oh man, they talked up the chocolate chip cookie. It delivered. Almonds, mancadamia, walnuts, lots of chocolate...yes yes yes and thank you.
Located in the attractive Distillery District, this gigantic restaurant really surprised me. It looks like it simply has to be corporate or even a chain because of its size. While a large investment company is behind it, operations were handed over to experts. Extreme care was taken with who runs the place and how. Literally every detail from floor to ceiling has been placed with care, including everything on the menu. A multiple-visit kind of place, you can enjoy the patisserie, gorgeous bar, main dining room, two patios, private function rooms or the oyster bar (whew). When the general manager I'd set up to meet with became unavailable and Jennifer stepped in without knowing who I was or why I was there yet confidentlly knew everything about the place, well...two thumbs up.
• Something for everyone on the menu : vegetarian, vegan, fish, meat
• Veg, Gluten Free and Nuts clearly (& beautifully) marked on menu
• THIS PLACE IS GORGEOUS
• New Fresh Seafood Menu each night according to best-of-day catches available
• Fresh baked goods, Specialty cocktails, Stellar wine list
MY FAVE :
• A tie - I loved the Cauliflower salad and the vegetarian Tagine. That tagine was amazing.
I had originally planned to keep it French-y with Kasa Moto's sister restaurant Collette but it got booked up for a private event so their PR folks asked if I'd like to try Kasa Moto. After browsing the info and menu online my answer was yes. Lured by a fab rooftop in an area I hadn't explored, my Toronto host and I headed to Yorkville for some contemporary Japanese food.
• Lovely space
• Lots of variety for different diets and portion moods
• I really loved all the ceramics and glassware - details truly elevate an experience
• All the fish was exceptional, of course
MY FAVE :
• There were details of almost every dish that were quite special. Click pics above to enlarge for notes. But, oh! our dessert was something, too. Too dark to get a good photo but I'd gamble going with any dessert here will treat you right.
Plan B Organic Farms
Boy, I got lucky with this one. Alvaro and his family run this beautiful organic farm about an hour outside of Toronto near Hamilton, Ontario. They operate their own area CSA and also work with Mama Earth Organics providing food for Torontonians. Alvaro is very interested in cutting out middlemen and and getting food directly from farmers to customers. But what is really amazing about this organic farm is that agroecologist Dr. Fulvio Gioannetto is working with them to create complete self-sustainability. Pesticides made from native plants cultivated on site, no need to bring in outside...anything. It is a process of hard work and education to get there and they are going for it. Noble, hard-working, forward-thinking...the future of food.
• Natural everything, of course!
• Such a lovely summer climate for growing, they don't get long-term mega heat
• People who are passionate about what they do and how
• Year-round growing via large on-site greenhouses
MY FAVE :
• It was a pleasure to roam the grounds - so much going on. From the forest path to the few areas with minimal livestock to the greenhouses and fields of food growing. Beautiful. And Alvaro was a fountain of knowledge and inspriation. Click pics above for more detail in the descriptions.