Eatdrink #45 January/February 2014


The LOCAL food & drink magazine serving London, Stratford & Southwestern Ontario since 2007

Serving London, Stratford & Southwestern Ontario


№ 45 • January/February




Thaifoon & A Coterie of Contenders

Hunting for the Perfect Pad Thai

Following The Stratford Chocolate Trail

A Valentine Voyage and More

London Training Centre

Balancing Life & Spirit

The Little Inn of Bayfield

A Year-Round Celebration of Heritage and Hospitality


Casual Contemporary

Comfort Food at



ALSO: 2014 Culinary Trends | Local Dairy in Ingersoll | A Year of Big Beers | Fireplace Reds


with international

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Savour Stratford Tastings, from exciting regional

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dishes our chefs are creating for Stratford says


Watch for Stratford is for Lovers, your special

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The LOCAL Food & Drink Magazine



Think Global.

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Chris McDonell –

Managing Editor Cecilia Buy –

Contributing Editor Bryan Lavery –

Social Media Editor Bryan Lavery –

Advertising Sales Chris McDonell –


Michael Bell –


Chris McDonell, Cecilia Buy


Jane Antoniak, Tanya Chopp, Darin Cook,

Donald D’Haene, Dave Hammond,

Bryan Lavery, Lori Maddigan, Chris McDonell,

Kim Miller, Natalie Novak

Photographers Steve Grimes, Bruce Fyfe

Copy Editor

Kym Wolfe


City Media


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From the left, Byron Freehouse

Restaurateurs Robbin Azzopardi

and Kathryn Banasik with Chef

Joshua Sawyer.

Photo by Steve Grimes.

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contents ISSUE № 45



food writer at large

8 Has “Artisan” Lost its Meaning? and 2014 Trends




11 Casual, Contemporary Comfort Food at Byron Freehouse


14 The Little Inn of Bayfield: A Tradition of Hospitality


18 The Ultimate Pad Thai: Thaifoon & A Coterie of Contenders



24 Balancing Life and Spirit at the London Training Centre







Farmers & Artisans

26 Keeping it Simple: Local Dairy, in Ingersoll



29 Discover Stratford: Following the Chocolate Trail


Kitchen Design

34 Transforming the ’70’s Kitchen!



38 The BUZZ


46 Fabulous Fireplace Reds from Ontario


Beer matters

48 A Year of Big Beers and Fine Imports



51 Donald DISHES on Theatre



54 Poor Man’s Feast by Elissa Altman

Review by DARIN COOK


56 The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook by David Ort

Pimentos & Piri Piri by Carla Azevedo

Setting a Fine Table eds. Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich

Roundup by Chris mcDonell


62 Soo Good

By natalie novak





№ 45 | January/February 2014 7






















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№ 45 | January/February 2014

food writer at large

Has “Artisan” Lost Its Meaning?

and What is Trending in 2014

By Bryan Lavery

To stay current with the culinary

scene, I constantly talk and meet

with restaurateurs, chefs, farmers

and food artisans. When I tell

people that I write about food and other

culinary matters, they imagine a frivolous

existence of dining in fabulous restaurants

night after night. You might notice

that I don’t dwell on pedestrian dining

experiences or bad cuisine in the pages

of eatdrink magazine. The reality is that I

am subjected to more than my fair share

of mediocre food and disappointing food

experiences, and I rarely write about them.

However, no reader wants us writers to pile

unrestrained acclaim on every restaurant, chef,

farmer or culinary artisan. It gets

obnoxious. At best,

I am a curious diner

and I like to discover

new restaurants

randomly but I also

listen to suggestions

from our readers and

a large network of contacts.

In my quest to eat

well, I get sent on many

a wild goose chase, with

my most crucial caveat

being that I can forgive

unpleasant surroundings

or neglectful service if the food is good.

We are living through a gastronomic

renais sance and more than ever my work

puts me in front of the orthodoxy of local

food sourcing, business incubators, culinary

innovators and food artisans advancing

the regionalism in our food culture. I can’t

help but be enthralled by chefs and food

producers that support farmers and food

artisans and pay close attention to the

provenance of their ingredients.

Fortunately, the movement to buying and

eating local is showing no signs of waning.

The local food movement and sustainable

agriculture reform initiatives are grounded



a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that

involves making things by hand, e.g. handwoven

textiles, sourdough break, goat’s milk cheese.


made in a traditional or non-mechanized way

using high-quality ingredients

upon critical assessments of the existing

food systems that dominate the marketplace

and remain instrumental in driving the cycle

of global famine. It seems to me, central

to the local food movement is the desire

to support small scale farmers and food

artisans, whose products are consumed

locally, allowing them to keep revenues

within the community and reducing the

environmental footprint of agriculture.

The prevailing agri-business conglomerates’

model is ridiculously expensive, toxic for

both people and the larger environment, and I

think most of us will agree that it is unsustainable.

Global instability, dependence on other

countries, food security,

rural welfare and smart

economics are among

the most compelling



disinformation disseminated by an organization

so as to present an environmentally responsible

public image.

arguments for us to

promote and lobby for

a sustainable local agricultural


Local food movements

attract their

share of detractors,

with the movement’s

ideals and initiatives

striking some

as inaccessible or too cerebral. Critics

maintain that eating has evolved from a question

of survival to a declaration of unrealistic

elitist principles and moral superiority. No one

wants to endure a 20-minute lecture about

eating a tomato out of season, however enlightened

it may seem. This type of grandstanding

has more to do with an individual’s personality

and politics rather than genuine principles.

Hand-crafted, regional, small-batch, signifier

of quality, regional in origin, and the list

of virtues that denote the word “artisan” goes

on. But what does the term really mean? In my

experience, an artisan is a craftsperson who

makes a high-quality or distinctive product

in small quantities, usually by hand or using

traditional methods. True artisanal goods can’t

№ 45 | January/February 2014 9

be mass-produced: they are limited in quantity

and generally have specific characteristics

deemed to be specialty in nature.

Imagine my disbelief a few years ago

when I discovered that a soft cheese with a

rich buttery flavour that won a raft of awards,

and which I had lionized, turned out not to

be a handcrafted farmstead cheese and the

very essence of Quebec’s terroir, but rather is

a mass-produced cheese made with inferior

ingredients instead of fresh milk. The “artisan”

farmer featured on the packaging was

nothing more than a figment of some advertising

agency’s imagination.

The word “artisan” on a label is no longer

the imprimatur it once was; it has become a

buzzword and a warm and fuzzy marketing

adjective. Now that fast food corporations

and grocery chains have co-opted the

idiom, it has lost its meaning and integrity.

You have to wonder if the term “artisan”

has any credibility or if it has become

another meaningless marketing ploy for the

greenwashing of corporate food initiatives.

Speaking of greenwashing, the term relates

to a practice in which green public relations is

employed to encourage the false perception

that an organization’s products and policies

are environmentally friendly, or that environmental

responsibility is a core business ethic.

Being green not only has a certain cachet, it is

politically correct and respected by both ecofriendly

and not green customers alike. If you

look closely it appears that bogus feel good

environmentalism and eco-friendly fakery are

not only on the rise, but continue to drive selfserving

agendas when you least expect it to.

Studies reveal that grocery store shoppers

consider the quality of the produce as

most important to them in their choice of

supermarkets. The trend is also helped by

consumers’ growing concerns about food

safety as food recalls, allergy alerts, and

food borne Listeria outbreaks and concerns

continue to shake consumer confidence in

corporate businesses and products grown by


The preference to purchase and eat local

products has helped revive farmers’ and

farm gate sales as an alternative to grocery

store retailers. Farmers’ markets are not only

increasing exponentially, but according to

the most recent available statistics Canadians

spend more than $1.03 billion at them each



519.663.2002 |

123 King Street @Downtown_London DowntownLondon


year in annual sales, for a total economic

impact of up to $3.09 billion. According

to Farmers’ Markets of Ontario, “one way

that farmers’ markets shape food systems

is by fostering free enterprise and ethicallygrounded

economic behaviour.”

There are many farms selling local foods,

crafts and flowers from a farm gate stand at the

end of a laneway. The farm gate helps build

relationships between farmers and consumers

as well as encouraging respect and generating

awareness of the sustainability and seasonality

of products and rural business as a way of life.

In Ontario the growth of niche, largely

What’s Trending in 2014

Bacon-flavoured chocolate is out. And, if that

is not enough to break your heart, those who

sold their souls for a bit of transitory fame by

using foams, liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide

and emulsifiers are also on their way out.

Unless of course, you are a serious molecular

gastronomist, Nordic, culinary modernist, or

have a death wish.

Chimichurri, poultry, permutations on

eggs benedict, regional Italian cuisine and

anything remotely barbecue are still in;

ramen noodles, pickles (can pickle juice really

stop muscle cramps?) and the Southeast

Asian cuisines are beginning to spike lots of

interest among food enthusiasts.

One of the top food trends in 2014 will

be the continuing obsession with chilies

and heat. Food lovers and fire breathers

everywhere are seeking out their next big chili

high. Sriracha’s (think rooster bottle with hot,

garlic aroma, vinegar kick and sweet finish)

closest competition remains the Korean chili

paste, gochujan, the savoury and pungent

fermented Korean condiment made from red

chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and

salt. Dab it on anything but be sure try it in

your bibimbap, bulgogi and banh mi.

The Latin cuisines are big food trends that

we have no quarrel with, thanks to a seductive

blend of multicultural and native influences.

Rio de Janeiro and the Copacabana School

of Culinary Arts will bring Brazil’s seafood

stews, grilling techniques, and both local and

rare Amazonian ingredients into the culinary

limelight when the country hosts the 2014

World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

The cemita, whose distinguishing

characteristic is the liberal use of the minty

herb papalo, originates in the Mexican state

of Puebla and joins the banh mi, cubano,

and panino as part of the contemporary

№ 45 | January/February 2014

rural-based culinary enterprises, whose

innovations are concentrated on the

production of specialty, high quality, artisan

type products, continues to be on the rise.

Superior qualities of artisan foods over their

mass-produced equivalents are seen as the

main reason for their growth.

The term artisan, from the Italian artigiano,

dates back to the 16th century to reference

a skilled craftsperson. In just over a decade,

companies like Burger King, Wendy’s,

Domino’s, Quiznos and Starbucks have

misappropriated the term, diluted its meaning

and made it almost hopelessly meaningless.

lunchtime sandwich canon. Peruvian,

Cuban and regional Mexican flavours and

ingredients are also being touted as the next

big waves of interest.

Indian cuisine is having its day in the sun,

emerging from its traditional confines with

modernist interpretations. Think fresh sea

bass cooked with Amritsari spices and served

with chole (chick peas) inside perfectly fried

aloo bhaturas.

The spreadable salumi Nduja (en-DOOyah),

the fiery pork paste from Calabria, Italy,

is becoming ubiquitous. Typically made with

parts of the pig such as the shoulder, belly and

jowl, as well as tripe, roasted peppers and a

mixture of spices, it is giving pork rillettes a

run for their money.

The culinary world is rapidly embracing

smartphones, mobile apps and a host of

convenient tools for the epicure in you.

Multicultural gourmet street food and

food trucks continue to trend and grow in

popularity despite opposition from outof-touch

politicians. Food trucks stimulate

culinary innovation, improve tourism, create

employment and are an important part of the

social and cultural fabric of a city.

Tattoos in the restaurant biz are hardly

original, but the fact that chefs choose to

ink themselves with symbols of their craft,

specifically images of their ingredients or

their ethos, is most assuredly worth paying

attention to. Please don’t ask them to roll up

their sleeves for a peek or ask them to dab a

little sriracha behind their ears. And lastly,

chefs: despite what you see on the Food

Network, the head band is not back.

BRYAN LAVERY is a well-known chef, culinary activist and

writer. Mr. Lavery has spent many years in teaching, consulting,

and advisory roles with various culinary initiatives.

№ 45 | January/February 2014 11


Casual Contemporary Comfort Food

at Byron Freehouse

By bryan lavery

Photos by Steve Grimes

Starting in his family’s coffee shop,

Robbin Azzopardi has been active

in the hospitality business for 17

years. A graduate of the culinary

arts program at Fanshawe College, he was

employed as an instructor in the curriculum

for two years. Transitioning into a career as

a chef and caterer (White Pomegranate),

Azzopardi quickly made his name with

his instinct for original flavour and texture

combinations, keen sense of style and his

belief that cooking is an expression of self.

As a culinary consultant and events planner

with hands-on attention to detail he was

a frequent participant and collaborator

at high end culinary events. (We are well

acquainted and I have enlisted his expertise

for a number of charitable initiatives where

he has generously donated his time.)

Employed at various restaurants in London,

including the London Hunt Club, Waldo’s on

King and the Tasting Room, Azzopardi was

most recently settled in as General Manager

of the Auberge du Petit Prince before making

the jump to become part of an entrepreneurial

duo with Kathryn Banasik to open the

Byron Freehouse. The term freehouse is

traditionally a term for pubs that are owned

The bar is a major focal point

independently of the breweries that supply

them. Contemporary restaurateurs are using

this term to denote something hipper and

more social than a sports bar while also taking

many of their cues and influences from the

gastro pub concept.

Banasik, no stranger to the restaurant

community, started in real estate when she

was 20. After being in the business for 12

years she decided to set her sights on a new

challenge and find a way to articulate her


As she describes it, “Robbin and I are best

friends, like siblings, and his passion for the

restaurant business inspired me.” As a team

Banasik and Azzopardi have united all their

strengths to create the Byron Freehouse.

The duo believes that business concepts

must evolve to keep in step with changing

demographics and economic conditions in

order to create sustained

public interest.

When a new and high

profile restaurant opens

it falls under intense

scrutiny even when

it has planned a soft

opening. An important

introductory stage, a soft

opening is a time when

a restaurant can iron out

Partners Robbin Azzopardi (left)

and Kathryn Banasik with Chef

Joshua Sawyer


the last of its challenges and measure how

efficiently it will operate with customers.

The Byron Freehouse opened in August

2013 to praise, but not without the requisite

growing pains in the smartly re-imagined

premises formerly occupied by La Bella Vita

Ristorante on Commissioners Road.

Conventional wisdom dictates that

location is the most critical factor in a

restaurant’s success formula.

“Some people have a pre-conceived

idea of what we are because we located in

an existing location but we were not out to

reinvent the wheel,” says Banasik. “Creating

an accessible and memorable experience,

one that clients will want to repeat sounds

easy; however, the far trickier proposition is

to be able to quickly adapt to the dictates of

your clientele, especially in a neighbourhood,

once you have put your concept, vision and

heart and soul on the line.”

“We saw that the space had lots of

potential, a beautiful patio, access to

parking, and could easily be gutted and

redesigned for a new concept,” says Banasik.

“It was one of the locations that I wanted to

pursue. Byron is a community that I have

lived in and liked. We want to create our

own niche in Byron and build relationships

in the community. From conception to

construction to being operational the project

took three months to complete.”

The Freehouse is designed to have striking

visual impact. The main room is a dramatic

example of the openness of contemporary

restaurant design with a variety of seating

options and bold and spirited infusions

of colour in the design, wood accents and

meticulously scripted quotes decorating the


“We took some inspiration from the

success of the bar at the Tasting Room. Our

bar was designed to be one of the main focal

points of the room. [We made it] inviting and

accessible by placing it near the entrance.

The open kitchen appeals to the fascination

with what goes on behind the scenes, it

adds to the experiential feeling and social

aspect and not just on busy nights,” opines

Azzopardi. “Clients like to see the chef and

flames and steam and hear the din of pots

and pans in the kitchen, it is all part of the

theatre of eating out.”

Crafting a “kick ass” menu that really

works comes after much trial and error and

is ultimately predicated on learning from

№ 45 | January/February 2014

past missteps. Tweaking a menu takes time,

effort, imagination, collaboration, patience

and persistence.

Chef Joshua Sawyer was selected not

for his even temperament but for his solid

experience and skill in delivering a menu of

classic comfort foods, specifically updated

riffs on gourmet versions of classic quickbistro

fare. Sawyer’s is a mostly scratch





№ 45 | January/February 2014 13

The main room is dramatically open with a variety of seating options and

bold and spirited infusions of colour .

Opposite page: 1 —Cedar Plank Salmon with pink peppercorn and Dijon

butter; 2 — FreeHouse Burger with house ground brisket; 3 — Caesar

Salad with crispy prosciutto; 4 — Sweet and Spicy Korean BBQ wings.

kitchen and even condiments like mustard,

relish and ketchup are made in-house and

that increases the depth of the restaurant’s


“The menu is combination of things we like

to eat that are approachable, everything from

rack of lamb to hotdogs,” says Azzopardi.

The hotdog is actually a foot long frank

wrapped with smoked bacon and grilled.

It is topped with cheese, chipotle aioli and

tempura flakes. The kitchen has already

dropped beef tenderloin from the menu

and replaced it with meat loaf. The popular

meatloaf has adopted the moniker, “Little

Tommy’s Meat Loaf,” named after talented

sous-chef, Thomas Waite, and comprised

of pork infused with Asian aromatics,

caramelized onions and served with a

ponzu-like citrus soy glaze.

On the original menu Ahi tuna nachos

with avocado, pickled ginger, red pepper,

cilantro, sweet soy and wasabi cream were

“the bomb” (in a good way). Chorizo nachos

are house-fried corn tortillas layered with

crumbled spicy sausage, caramelized onions

and cheese and topped with fresh pico di

gallo and yogurt. There are also mahi-mahi

and pork tacos. Sweet and spicy Korean BBQ

wings with sesame seeds and spring onion

are meaty and fiery. The house ice cream

sandwich is maple bacon ice cream inserted

between two chewy ginger molasses cookies.

“It is a romantic, sexy business and

you’ve got to remind yourself that it is a

business first and foremost, and to take

criticism constructively,” muses Banasik.

“In this business, you are only as good as

your next meal.”

Byron Freehouse was conceptualized

to be a casual, entertaining and enjoyable

restaurant appealing to the Byron

neighbourhood and all-encompassing

demographic, including families. Says

Azzopardi, “the restaurant probably has a

more varied demographic than anywhere

else in London. From the start, the

restaurant has encouraged patrons and staff

to have a little fun. It is casual and at times

we don’t mind cranking up the music a bit.”

Recently opened independent businesses

like Mark Kitching and Mark Navackas’s

Waldo’s in Byron, a satellite operation of

Waldo’s on King in the Covent Garden

Market, continue to add another level

of sophistication and choice to Byron’s

culinary scene.

“We really think that it is great that

Waldo’s in Byron opened next door to us.

Anything that encourages people to visit this

neck-of-the-woods is good for us and for the

Byron community,” says Azzopardi.

Byron Freehouse

1288 Commissioners Road W.


monday to sunday: 11:00 am–close

BRYAN LAVERY is a well-known chef, culinary activist and

writer. Mr. Lavery has spent many years in teaching, consulting, and

advisory roles with various culinary initiatives.


№ 45 | January/February 2014


The Little Inn of Bayfield

Heritage and Hospitality, Year-Round

By TANYA Chopp

In the quaint

town of Bayfield,

modern shops

twinkle with

Christmas lights draped

over their historic

facades. Near the end

of Main Street, just a

stone’s throw from the

frigid winter waters of

Lake Huron, the Little

Inn of Bayfield glows,

wrapped in boughs of balsam. As Ontario’s

oldest operating inn the warm yellow building

has a unique claim to fame, but the historic

hardships of travel have been left in the past.

Behind the wreathed wooden door is

an establishment of modern day comfort.

With an assortment of rooms to choose

from, overnight guests may enjoy luxurious

amenities such as Tempur-Pedic mattresses,

whirlpool tubs, custom-made duvets, gas

fireplaces and pricelessly picturesque views.

“I just want guests to feel at home,” says

owner Gayle Waters, who states that while

the Inn offers modern amenities, attention

has been given to preserving the many

original elements that have made the Inn a

fixture in the community.

With a glance it’s easy to see that Waters has

done a fine job of maintaining this dichotomy,

while resisting becoming outdated. The Inn

is laden with the comfort of every lakeside

cottage or grandmother’s house you’ve ever

escaped to. It’s a place where tension melts

and wood fireplaces burn, pine floors aren’t

shy to show their knots and high-ceilings

provide for large windows that blur the line

between outside and in. It’s no wonder that

guests — from individuals, couples and

families to rock stars and literary giants —

often become repeat customers.

The Inn’s 18-year-strong Four-Diamond

rating pairs wonderfully with its 13-yearstreak

of holding the Wine Spectator Award

of Excellence, which was granted for the Inn’s

impressive cellar of 178 wines representing

150 vineyards. But if you don’t like wine while

you dine, you can also choose from over 20

varieties of single malt whiskeys.

Just last year, the Inn was also awarded

Huron County Tourism Association’s Tourism

Development Award for their commitment

to leadership, creative invention, partnership

initiative, community impact and excellence

in tourism.

According to Waters, local partnerships

are actively sought and many of their “stay

and play” year-round adventure packages,

including winter horseback riding,

geocaching, and snowshoeing, have been

built around the diversity of offerings in the

local economy.

№ 45 | January/February 2014 15


№ 45 | January/February 2014

The Guest Cottage at The Little Inn

— a summertime retreat

The Cottage Garden

In the kitchen, many local

names can be found on the supply

list, including Metzger Meat

Products, Soiled Reputation,

Bayfield Berry Farm, Schilbe

maple syrup, Ferguson Apiaries

and Out of the Blue Fish.

Since 2009, Chef Joseph

Petrinac has kept a careful eye on the ebb

and flow of business, while taking the time

to get to know the clientele. Referring to one

of his favourite quotes by Brillat-Savarin,

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you

what you are,” he notes that the key to the

restaurant’s success lies in tailoring the

menu selection to the guest’s moods and

attitudes throughout the season. Whether

diners be locals or out-of-towners, the

adventurous or comfort driven, there is

always something for everyone.

“You need to understand what people

expect and what they’re feeling,” he says. “In

the spring, people want something bright —

but this time of year is nostalgic and reserved.”

The Chef, who has trained and worked

in Windsor, France, Spain, Montreal and

Toronto, has earned praise from food

critics, but keeps the ego in the kitchen

in check. Like the Inn itself, he walks the

line between perfectionism in his craft

and remaining down to earth. It is with a

thorough knowledge of what constitutes

technical culinary excellence that he grades

his mother’s cabbage rolls as the perfect

comfort food — though you won’t find them

on the menu. What you will find is a plethora

of comfort-driven options, including lobster

and cepe mushroom ravioli, Hayter’s turkey

poutine, braised rabbit ragu and slow roasted

half duckling bigarade, all crafted with local

ingredients and created

with Chef Petrinac’s

meticulous attention

to detail. “Guests

and locals appreciate

creativity, but it’s not

just about being cute

and smart,” he says,

noting that “where you

take it from matters.”

Chef Petrinac’s twist

on the familiar also comes from applying

creative cooking techniques, such as using

a water bath to create butter poached

lobster, and from using unique cuts, such as

tender lamb neck. While most of the menu

is consistent throughout each season, he

admits that from time to time he will add in

a change to bolster interest. Certain dishes,

however, such as the fish and chips and

diver scallops, have become iconic for the

establishment and remain on the menu year


The versatility of the Inn’s spaces, including

two dining rooms (maximum capacity

80 people), a private function room and

numerous meeting rooms, has made it a

choice venue for hosting a variety of functions,

including intimate weddings, private parties,

banquets and business meetings.

The five-course, five-wine “Wine and Dine”

packages, offered only on certain dates, are

An airy, light-filled dining room

One of the many room choices,

all with Tempur-Pedic mattresses

very popular

and the Inn

encourages the

public to check

the website for

some exciting


slated to centre

around Valentine’s

Day and

Family Day in


If you’re

looking to find

Chef Joseph Petrinac

tradition without


upscale dining

without formality,

an adventurous


or a place to

wind down,

the Little Inn

of Bayfield is

pleased to offer

it all — only an

hour’s drive

from London.

Whether the

road that leads

you there is

clear, snowblown,



driven only out

of curiosity, you

may find a new

tradition at this

peaceful retreat on Ontario’s West Coast. And

for those who are worried about winter travelling

conditions — on the bright side, you

may get lucky enough to be snowed in.

Little Inn of Bayfield

26 Main St. N., Bayfield

1-800-565-1832 or 519-565-2611

breakfast: 8 am–10 am



12 noon–2 pm

5 pm–8:30 pm

(some seasonal variation)

TANYA CHOPP is a London-based artist and writer and a

proud holder of a BSc. Her work focuses on exploring issues of

health and wellness, travel, tourism, the arts — and, of course,

the regional culinary scene.

Reserve Now




Seasonal Hours

Always Closed Monday

Reopening February 12

Reservations Recommended


42 Ontario St. S., Grand Bend

Named one of the


“Evidence that you don’t have to be in

a big city to create great things!”

— The Globe & Mail

30 min North of London • 20 min East of Grand Bend

30 min West of Stratford

527 Main Street, Exeter ON N0M 1S1



№ 45 | January/February 2014


Thaifoon and a Coterie of Contenders

Hunting for the Ultimate Pad Thai …

By BRYAN lavery

Hunting for the ultimate pad

Thai may be a continuing

quest. Most Thai restaurants

appeal to a largely Caucasian

clientele, which influences many of them

to compromise their cuisine by taming the

long and gradual development and release

of flavour that is a Thai culinary attribute.

I am always looking for serious Asian

restaurants that make no concessions to

Western palates. Even in these enlightened

times, they are few and far between.

Contrary to common belief, not all Thai

cooking vibrates the Scoville Scale (the

empirical measurement of detectable heat)

and every region in Thailand has its own

temperament which is reflected in the cuisine.

Despite the advent of the tourism

industry in Thailand in the 1960s, Thai

cuisine had no real profile outside of

Thailand until the late 1980s.

During the 1940s, as part of a campaign

to promote democracy and nationalism

in Thailand (formerly known as Siam),

and seeking to reduce domestic rice

consumption, pad Thai became widely

embraced in a profile-raising effort by

the government to encourage the sale of

rice noodles from street carts and in small

restaurants. Rice has always been at the

core of Thai cuisine. To eat pad Thai became

a patriotic act, one which allowed the

government to make more rice products

available for export.

In a few decades, pad Thai has gone from

being virtually anonymous to becoming a

ubiquitous restaurant and take out staple.

In reality, it is a minor dish in repertoire, but

it has become a global ambassador for

Thai cuisine. I confess, I have always been

a disciple of Thai curry but indifferent to

pad Thai. For the purpose of this article

I embarked on a two-month quest to

distinguish the different nuances in

preparation and flavouring among a

diversity of restaurants. When ordering

pad Thai I now have a benchmark for

authenticity and an expectation of fresh,

firm, medium-slender rice noodles with

a particular bite profile. Precisely cooked,

pad Thai noodles are never starchy,

gloopy or stuck together. The properly

cooked rice noodle should be dry and

with separate strands, much like correctly

cooked al dente pasta.

Deconstructing the recipe for pad

Thai divulges a collection of ingredients

that are not overly remarkable. It is

only in the combining and balancing of

these ingredients that we discover the

resulting dish is greater than the sum

Eddy and Alex Phimprhrachanh of Thaifoon

№ 45 | January/February 2014 19

Thaifoon’s Peanut Pasta Chicken (left) and Pad Thai and Panang Curry

the resulting dish is greater than the sum

of its parts. Peanuts and nearly raw bean

sprouts add a required, reserved crunch

and counterpart for the rice noodles. A well

prepared pad Thai divulges its flavour profile

incrementally: restrained sweetness with

bursts of salty, sour and tart flavours in a

fresh tasting, lemony, hot dish.

Pad Thai is never sickly sweet or an

undignified neon orange or fluorescent

tangerine. It derives its colour and aromatics

from tamarind paste and fish sauce, and is

ideally an unassuming brownish-red shade,

studded with bits of green onions, bean

sprouts, tofu, chilies, salted radish, cilantro,

toasted peanut and scrambled egg.

An inordinate number of non-Thai

restaurants feature pad Thai (or credible

variations) on their menus, yet in far too

many instances they bear only a passing

acquaintance with the properly executed

dish. In knowledgeable restaurants,

additional lime, fish sauce, chili pepper,

and rice vinegar are optional and offered

by way of condiments. No self-respecting

cook would put peanut butter, ketchup,

teriyaki sauce or shredded coconut in pad

Thai. To those who claim that this is fusion,

innovation or artistic individualism, I can

assure you that it is not.

A decade ago, the name of London chef

Dani Gruden became synonymous with

pad Thai when he was the chef/co-owner

of The Braywick Bistro. People flocked

there to eat his pad Thai. Today, Chef serves

a wicked Malaysian-inspired version with

coconut milk, ginger, tamarind, cilantro,

brown sugar-beansprouts, green onions and

cashews at Blu Duby. Tamarine by Quyn-

Nhi also does a stellar variation from the

Viet-Thai repertoire.

The use of chopsticks is not a Thai custom.

Thai food is eaten with a fork (left hand)

and a spoon (right hand); there is no need

for a knife as food is served in bite-sized

morsels, which are forked into the spoon

and fed into the mouth. Thai meals typically

consist of a single dish, or rice with several

complementary shared dishes served


Thai curries (kaeng, also written as gaeng)

are unique because they are made with

fresh aromatic roots, leaves and herbs,

whereas Indian curries (masalas) depend

on combining dry spice mixtures. All

curry pastes vary widely depending on the

tastes and techniques of the cook. Green

is the hottest among all the Thai curries

and cilantro root is commonly used in its

preparation due to its intense flavour. Red

is the original preparation and yellow is the

mildest of the curry preparations.

Locally, there is a myriad of Thai, Viet-

Thai, and Laos-Thai and other Asianinspired

restaurants. Due to the popularity

of Canadian-Asian food, lots of Chinese

restaurants pay homage to the Thai genre.

Thai culinary repertoire of Thailand, like

Korea’s, has spicing techniques and aromatic

infusions of curry-inspired recipes that are

suggestive of India. That is just scratching

surface of the Thai culinary canon. If you

want to know how good the restaurant is,

you only need check out the pad Thai.



Brothers Eddy and Alex

Phimprhrachanh are the

proprietors of Thaifoon, downtown

London’s upmarket Southeast

Asian restaurant. Their with-it and

tasteful take on the ancient Thai culture,

with a décor that honours the past while

embracing modernity, has earned both

raves and admiration for their culinary

vision and ambitions.

“Thaifoon has become more of a hub

for my family these days,” says Eddy. “Our

first few years we were focused on building

the business and I was active in every role

at Thaifoon. But the past few years I’ve

The dining room at Thaifoon, looking onto

Dundas Street (left), into the corner bar

(above) and into a corner nook (below) near

the front entrance.

really taken a step back and just

let Thaifoon speak for itself. My

brother Alex purchased into the

business and he’s now running

day-to-day operations. My sister

who was the previous manager is

now raising a family and my dad

pops in to do maintenance once in

a while. Thaifoon has become our

family hub and our loyal customers enjoy

not only our food and atmosphere, but my

whole family as well. When my sister visits

the restaurant she could easily step into the

dining room at a lunch rush and catch up

with a familiar face. It’s not uncommon for a

customer to pop into the kitchen to say hi to

myself or my mom.”

Eddy has never been one to rest on

his laurels. The mega-successful Lavish

ultra-lounge was opened in 2008 by Eddy

to not only offer the LGBT community a

welcoming and hip place to go at night, but

to provide a premier high-energy night club

to the London community at large.

Thaifoon continues to set itself apart

with bang-on exuberant flavours and an

eye for detail and presentation. The 30-seat

restaurant is a tasteful and refined take on

the ancient Siamese culture, with a soothing

décor with a rich palette of browns and

№ 45 | January/February 2014

blacks with golden accents and pleasing

Thai iconography. The minimalist room

is sleek, with a sexy, upbeat soundtrack,

rich dark woods and ultra-soft leather

banquettes with cushions.

The kitchen’s oeuvre is a consistent showcase

of Thailand’s regional flavours of hot,

sweet, sour and salty, honouring tradition

while embracing modernity. Thaifoon is

careful to give you just the level of spicing

you want. The restaurant is very popular with

vegetarian and gluten-free clients.

Won-ton bundles are flawless — wellexecuted

crispy and crunchy parcels of

chili-infused minced chicken accompanied

by a ginger and plum sauce. Savoury curries

surpass expectations with richness and

variations on spiciness that are tempered

with velvety coconut milk and fragrant aromatics.

The pad Thai is proper with perfectly

cooked noodles, firm tofu with a silky interior,

egg, crisp bean sprouts, scallions, fragrant

cilantro, minced peanuts, lime juice and the

crucial sweet and sour tanginess.

“I think our secret to success is sticking to

the basics of authentic Thai cooking. After

the Thai-volution started in our city, classic

Thai dishes were being re-invented at many

restaurants. My mother, Arounvaty, who is

the head chef at Thaifoon, kept her recipe

grounded in how she was used to making and

eating pad Thai back home — rice noodles

cooked with fish sauce, sugar, tamarind, a

few other spices and a touch of soy for the

caramel colour. We’ve tickled around with

measurements but our ingredients remain

true to what we believe in.”

Thaifoon continues to receive raves and

praise for their cuisine and responsive,

knowledgeable service. Coconut and green

tea ice creams are made in-house.

This is London’s premiere upscale

go-to Thai restaurant. There is a top-shelf

cocktail list, with head-turning mangotinis,

lycheetinis and Mai Thais, and an above

average selection of imported beers and

complementary wines.


120 Dundas Street (East of Talbot)


lunch monday to friday 11:30 am–2 pm

dinner every night 5 pm–close


A Downtown London Culinary Landmark

at the Covent Garden Market since 1940

Anna Turkewicz’s

delicatessen and

catering have a

reputation for

personal service and

offering a large

selection of European

specialties, including

quality products from

Germany, Holland,

Poland & Switzerland

Ensure your event is a success!

For the best food and venues, call

Kleiber’s for a free catering estimate.

Civic Garden’s Approved Caterer

London’s German Canadian Club

and Polish Canadian Club Caterer

Covent Garden Market



A Coterie of

Contenders ...

Here are a few other Thai restaurants that are worth

a closer look.

Mai’s Café and Bistro

This relatively new hot-spot in Wortley Village has

a deceivingly unimposing frontage leading into a

compact and stylish interior, where the intoxicating

fragrance of Asian spices permeates the room.

There’s a satiating medley of traditional Thai fare

and an ambitious and unexpected assortment of

bistro fare form the unconventional menu. Although

emphasizing the genuine Thai taste, Mai’s appears

to want to be all things to all people. Kai, Mai`s sister,

is a welcoming and knowledgeable presence in the

restaurant. Overall Mai’s offers an above average

dining experience with an enthralling flavour of

Thailand, which guarantees the restaurant a constant

stream of loyal clientele and first-timers.

Excellent curry dishes are on offer and the pad

Thai is top notch. When you can order crispy Thai

wontons with ground chicken, coriander and

garlic — that are absolute perfection — why would

you consider escargot in fresh basil cream sauce?

The tom-yum (hot and sour lemongrass) soup and

the spicy drunken noodles (stir-fried rice noodles

with chicken breast, fresh chilies and sweet pepper

and basil sauce) are knockouts. Many of you will

remember Mai as the former owner of Café Milagro

in Byron.

142-A Wortley Rd. 519-679-1221

№ 45 | January/February 2014

Thai Taste

An Old East Village neighbourhood favourite, this

humble and unassuming hole-in-the-wall offers

superior Thai food served with pride and attention

to detail. Don’t be put off by the façade or the

cramped interior — the food shines.

671 Dundas St., London 519-646-2909

Bangkok Pad Thai

This busy restaurant is a Richmond Row stalwart,

with a casual atmosphere, pleasant ambience and

friendly service. Despite the name, Pad Thai does

not seem to be their raison d’être, but the restaurant

remains a well-known crowd pleaser with above

average Thai food and good prices.

735 Richmond St. (between Oxford & Piccadilly)


Stratford Thai Cuisine

Chef Nancy Senawong, formerly of Thai Angels

restaurant in Toronto, opened her second restaurant,

Exeter Thai Cuisine

Stratford Thai Cuisine, to good wordof-mouth

and great reviews. “I came

№ 45 | January/February 2014


Thai Cuisine




to Canada nearly a decade ago and was

surprised to find only a few authentic Thai

restaurants in Toronto. Having a childhood in

the food industry and growing up watching

my mom cook helped me to articulate my

own style of Thai cooking. Knowing the right

balance of spice and flavouring is the key to

authentic Thai cuisine. Also, being chosen as

one of the Toronto a la Cart (multi-cultural

street food) program by the City of Toronto

gave me encouragement to pursue my

ambitions further.” 82 Wellington St., Stratford





Exeter Thai Cuisine

Exeter Thai cuisine is the new sibling

restaurant of Stratford Thai Cuisine by chef

Nancy Senawong. We are already hearing

rave reviews about the food.

365 Main St., Exeter 519-235-3737

Also worth checking out are The Banana

Leaf in Woodstock, both Le Café Siam and

Lotus Thai in St. Thomas, and Mone Thai in

the market square in Stratford.

Bryan Lavery is eatdrink’s Food Writer at Large.

Open six days a week.

Hensall, Ontario

Just off Hwy 4, 45 minutes north of London.

Available in London at

Saucy: Meats & So Much More

at Western Fair Farmers’ Market

on Saturdays!


Local Beef • Pork • Lamb • Poultry

Specialty European Meat Products


№ 45 | January/February 2014

culinary education

Discovering the Unexpected

Balancing Life and Spirit at the London Training Centre

By tanya Chopp

Nourishing. Satisfying. Inspired.

Honest. These are words that can

describe a well-balanced plate,

and a well-balanced life. And if you

were to ask a student of the London Training

Centre’s (LTC) food skills program you might

hear that they’re one and the same.

“From cradle to grave, a large part of what

we do as humans involves food — whether

alone or in concert with other people,”

explains LTC Executive Director David

Corke. “It’s connected intimately to our

close relationships and it acts as a catalyst to

engage other people.”

Considered to be a test-run in the food

business, the free, three-week Local Food

Skills program has been rapidly expanding

over the past five years, incorporating each

facet of the human relationship with food.

As a self-funded social enterprise, the LTC

offers an astounding array of business

channels that allow students an opportunity

to gain a wholesome and practical

perspective on what it takes to grow, harvest,

process, retail, cook and serve healthy and

unique food items.

In the past year the LTC has made a

strong leap into catering and retail, offering

students yet more experiences beyond the

essential skills they learn in the centre’s

kitchen. Local Food Feasts Catering offers

students a chance to develop menus based

on local seasonal food at its peak. New

Students get some hands-on experience of “farm to table”

retail locations in both the Covent Garden

Market and the Masonville Farmers’ Market

place students front and centre, selling

fresh produce and lunch fare that have been

sourced from the program’s five-acre organic

plot on the outskirts of London.

The LTC has a reputation for achieving

excellence in whatever new programs it cooks

up, and a holistic approach is the cornerstone

of the food skills program. Students are often

surprised by their own capabilities, and the

passion they find in themselves. “During

an evaluation someone in the program said

‘you’ve given me my spirit back,’” says Chef

Instructor Josie Pontarelli. “When you see

someone having that experience through

food, getting that hope and confidence back

— that’s pretty amazing.”

From the left, Program Manager and Head Chef Steve

James, Chef Instructor Josie Pontarelli, and Executive

Director David Corke. 25

Local Food Skills dinners are offered monthly.

Reserve early for these popular events.

Head Chef and Program Manager

Steve James, who joined the LTC

five years ago, is no stranger to

epiphanies striking in unexpected

ways. After 30 years of an illustrious

career as a chef, which took him

around the world, James found

himself uninspired and in search of

meaning. He was drawn to the dirt,

traded in his chef hat for a garden

hoe for two years, and finally dug to

the root of what it meant to have a

human connection to food.

“When I left cooking and started

farming I gained a greater respect for

food — what it takes to grow it and,

when it comes into the restaurant,

how you should treat it,” he says,

explaining that participants are

taught how to draw out the best in

each product. “A lot of people come

out of here after three weeks and

leave with the notion that there’s

a lot more out there than they had

been expecting.”

‘Unexpected’ could be a tagline

for the LTC, which has been finding

success in unique ways that keep the

centre in touch with the community.

From the annual Food for Thought

fundraiser hosted at their garden

plot, to the monthly dinners in the

centre’s kitchen, to food donations

to local missions and the rental of

their kitchen to up-and-coming

food businesses, the LTC has found

effective ways of keeping itself in the business of

helping others.

Chef Pontarelli says it has been important for her

to live the family oriented life that she teaches to her

students. She feels that the pendulum guiding social

interaction is due to swing back to favouring real

human connections — like those we used to enjoy

over the dinner table. “People are starting to ask why

am I in the car for hours? Why are my kids enrolled

in 20 activities? Why am I eating food from a box —

and why do I feel unhealthy?” she says. “I come from

a generation where, when I was growing up, food

was prepared from scratch.”

Among her repertoire of baked goods Chef

Pontarelli takes pride in her sour dough bread, and a

unique treasure — a ginger cookie recipe that came

from her grandmother’s grandmother.

It is evident from listening to the two instructors

banter, and seeing the order of their kitchen and

the large stores of preserves on their shelves, that

these chefs have an easy but honest approach that

translates well

into a learning

environment. Chef

James jokes that

Pontarelli’s office is

like a grandmother’s

cold cellar, packed

to the rafters with

pickled preserves.

Chef Pontarelli likens

James’s excitement

over seed catalogues

to a child with a

new Christmas toy


With that kind

of passion channeled Handmade sourdough breads and

towards advocacy for

bagels, for sale at the market.

careers in food service,

and a commitment to a local and sustainable food

system, it’s no wonder the program has been gaining

incredible momentum. “Community and human

impact work,” explains program director David Cork.

“Whether people are with us for three weeks or they

encounter us at an event, or we cater their wedding

— the impact is entirely tied to the way that my

colleagues teach and the participants who are part

of the food creation moments. Our commitment and

our passion about the seasonality of food and durable

communities are evident.“

TANYA CHOPP is a London-based marketing communications specialist and

freelance writer whose work is focused on the promotion of health, wellness and

support of the arts. She cooks with wine, and sometimes she even adds it to the food.


№ 45 | January/February 2014

farmers & artisans

Local Dairy

Keeping it Simple, in Ingersoll

By lori maddigan

Home to Canada’s first cheese

factory in 1840, Ingersoll remains

a cheese-producing town, thanks

in part to Amarjit Singh and his

family, owners of Local Dairy. Housed in

the historic Ingersoll Cheese Factory, Local

Dairy produces cheese, cultured butter,

and yogurt, specializing in authentic Indian

dairy products, Mennonite cheese, and

traditional Mexican and Latin American

crema and queso.

Indian dairy and cheese products are made using

traditional production methods and natural ingredients

A true entrepreneur, Singh has operated

a tire company, donut shop, fast-food

restaurant and juice business, but dairy is

his passion. It all began 20 years ago when

Singh was frustrated by the lack of good

Indian paneer in Canada. He educated

himself in the fine art of cheese-making and

opened up shop in Kitchener, Ontario. “We

were the first for packaged Indian paneer,”

says Singh. In 1999 he moved his business

to Ingersoll because, he says, “Oxford

County is the largest producer of milk

in Ontario. We get the freshest milk

from one or two local farms five or ten

minutes away.”

Milk quality is crucial in Singh’s

business. “A cow is a very finicky animal.

Lots of factors make a difference in the

milk, even the weather. Of course the milk

changes based on what the cow eats. If a cow

is force fed protein for example, some of the

other micronutrients are lost. A cow is most

happy when outside grazing and eating at its

own speed,” says Singh. He also notes that

the milk must be antibiotic-free in order to

make his cultured dairy products from it.

Walking into the office at Local Dairy is

an experience unto itself. Albert Einstein

once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a

cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty

desk a sign?” By Einstein’s standards, Singh’s

mind is certainly full. Among the stacks of

typical office paperwork are piles of trade

journals and educational brochures. One

thing is clear: if Singh does something, he

does it right and that means learning as

much as he can.

Lately Singh has been researching

micronutrients, those important

vitamins and minerals like b-complex

and zinc. He has taken some nutrition

courses but also reads a lot of books

on the subject. Singh plucks a letter

from the middle of a stack on his desk; it’s

from a woman asking where to buy Local

Dairy’s Perth County All-Natural Yogurt,

reading, “it saved my mother’s life.” The

yogurt contains acidophilus and bifidus, two

probiotics important for reducing lactose

intolerance and providing protection from

La Vaquita products deliver an authentic Latin American

food experience, true to the flavours of the region.

yeast and ‘bad’ bacteria such as E. coli. “We

were also the first to make the acidophilus

milk,” says Singh. “Acidophilus is one of the

hardest cultures to keep.”

№ 45 | January/February 2014

Cleanliness is paramount at Local Dairy.

The equipment used to make the products

is washed and sterilized after every use

and again immediately before the next use.

“We are very concerned with quality and

consistence,” says Singh. This is why he

Celebrating our 20 th Anniversary

Perth County Yogourt is made from milk ingredients with

active probiotic acidophilus and bifidus culture

and his wife Gurinder and their son Sajeev

spend so much time in the factory. “I work

hands on,” he says. “I know exactly what’s

going to happen. Even when I’m not here

they [employees] say I am still watching

them.” Making cheese is all about time,

temperature and handling, and at Local

Dairy it is all performed manually. Small

changes can make a big difference in the

481 Richmond St., London, ON


Crème fraîche is a rich and flavourful addition to many

dishes. Cook Cheese is a German-inspired cheese spread,

popular in Southwestern Ontario

product. “That’s why I have to be here 16

hours a day,” Singh laughs.

Although his competitors are using

preservatives to increase the shelf life of

products, Singh refuses to follow suit. “We

only use milk and vinegar for our paneer

— all our products are natural and very

clean,” he says. Local Dairy’s La Vaquita

quesos are made with milk, culture, and

enzyme or rennet. Concerned about

consumer misinformation, Singh does not

add colouring to his products. “There are

25 ingredients legally allowed for colouring

cheese that are not required to be named

on the label,” he says, “I like to keep things

simple and pure.”

Local Dairy also makes a cultured butter

under its Asli brand. Cultured butter, like

Sun–Tues 11am–midnight, Wed/Thurs 11am–1am, Fri/Sat 11am–2am


№ 45 | January/February 2014

In a world of mass production

where food choices are becoming

increasingly complex and nutrition

labels list mysterious multi-syllabic

ingredients, it’s nice to know that

regional artisans like Local Dairy are

keeping things pure and simple.

Local Dairy’s artisanal products are

distributed across Ontario and can

be found in and around London at

United Supermarket, Smith Cheese

(Covent Garden Market), Angelo’s and

Remark Fresh Markets.

Local Dairy Owners Amarjit and Gurinder Singh

regular butter, is made from cream but

because it is cultured with active bacteria

it has a longer shelf life and is rich in

probiotics. Asli butter is smooth, sweet and

creamy and has a slightly tangy taste similar

to yogurt.

Local Dairy

139 Victoria Street, Ingersoll


lori maddigan is a fresh market aficionado from

London. Recently becoming ‘too-young-to-be-retired’, she is

happily devoting more time to her second career as a freelance



Pleased to

feed you.

1288 COMMISSIONERS RD W, LONDON • 519.601.3300 •

№ 45 | January/February 2014 29

culinary retail

Take The Chocolate Trail

A Selected Sweet Tooth Sampling of Stratford

By emily Chandler

I’ve always thought the best way to get

to know a city is to linger in its shops

and cafés. The Stratford Chocolate

Trail allows you to do just that,

whether you’re visiting from afar or live in

the area. The Trail includes an eclectic mix

of twenty Stratford businesses, all with a

chocolate offering for those who redeem

their ticket. For $25 plus HST, you can

choose six locations (from a list of 20) to get

your chocolate fix.


It was a brisk winter day when I began

exploring, so I headed to Foster’s Inn to

warm up with a chocolate martini. It was a

wise choice. The inn is a friendly spot with

plenty of regulars. The owner,

Craig Foster, chatted about the

appeal of being offered a hot

beverage to warm you up in both

temperature and spirit, and his

plans to change his chocolate

item through the winter months.


Walking on to Rheo

Thompson Candies was a

no-brainer: their mint smoothies are world

famous. Personally I don’t care for mint with

First stop: warm up

with a chocolate martini,

at Foster’s Inn

my chocolate (crazy, I know) and so chose

four handmade cream and caramel centres,

including my favourite,

chocolate caramel.

Rheo Thompson — not just

Mint Smoothies



By now the martini was

wearing off. I beelined to

Bradshaws Kitchen Detail, the place to

find kitchen essentials with an appealing

aesthetic. Owners Jeremy and Carrie

Wreford were clever and paired with a

downtown restaurant for complimentary

items. I picked up a Godiva tumbler and Brix

chocolate, created specifically for pairing

with different grape varietals.

Wine and chocolate? What could be better!

I crossed the street with said chocolates

to complete the pairing at Mercer Hall. The

2010 Chateau des Charmes Cabernet paired


with both the

medium and

extra dark



Jessie Larsen

said the Chocolate


serves as an


for consumers to become engaged with the

businesses, which is always welcome.

№ 45 | January/February 2014

Mix and Match—Mercer Hall provides the perfect

pairing for Brix chocolate from Bradshaws

Current Stratford Chocolate Trail Participating Businesses


Chocolate Barr’s Candies Inc.

Coffee Culture Café & Eatery

Distinctly Tea

Foster’s Inn

Jenn & Larry’s Brittle & Shake

Kitchen Connoisseur

Let Them Eat Cake

MacLeods Scottish Shop

Mercer Hall

Olive Your Favourites

Revel Caffè

Rheo Thompson Candies

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Slave to the Grind Espresso Bar

Small-Mart General Mercantile

Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar


Turnbull & Stewart

Your Local Market Co-op 31

Revel Caffè serves fair trade

coffee and cocoa


My final destination was a

place you might not expect to

find chocolate. Olive Your Favourites

is Stratford’s first extra virgin olive

oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar.

The store has a really wide selection,

one you could easily spend hours

tasting your way through.

For the Trail, I tried their

chocolate balsamic, which was

definitely full flavoured. Owner

Michelle Hern recommends pairing

it with fresh

berries or ice

cream and I’d

like to try using

it to compliment

a bold

salad, perhaps

garnished with


At the Olive Your

Favourites tasting bar—chocolate balsamic vinegar!


Including Revel Caffè in my

Chocolate Trail experience was a

must — it’s my go-to place for a coffee.

On this occasion I was served the Revel

mocha, their signature coffee made with

fair trade cocoa and steamed milk. It’s a

subtle but rich combination that I plan on

having again soon.

Stratford has a strong reputation for

its theatrical offerings, restaurants,

shopping, and general charm. The

Chocolate Trail provides a flavourful

way to spend some time wandering

the streets, chatting with Stratford’s

unique proprietors, while satisfying

your sweet tooth. Your pass is good

for three days, but with 20 different

stops to choose from, you just might want to

go twice!

Having just returned from Europe, EMILY CHANDLER has a

full case of the travel bug but happily resides in Stratford.

Ontario focus. European Style.


Each Beer Dinner features

samples from the brewery,

paired with a 4-course

chef-inspired menu.

Limited seating.

Meet the brewery reps and

talk about craft beer!


Dinner Series

4 Courses — $60 each

Book all 4 nights in advance for $200

Jan 16 – Lake of Bays

Feb 20 – Muskoka

Mar 20 – Silversmith

Apr 17 – Beau’s



great for



NO room


104 Ontario Street, Stratford | 519.271.92 02 |

Get up-to-date info on our series of exciting events!

Stratford is

more than

great theatre ...

Only $25 for 6 delicious stops!


Chocolate Trail

A self-guided tour that will

satisfy your sweet tooth!


№ 45 | January/February 2014

kitchen design

Transforming a 1970’s Kitchen

By jane antoniak | Photos by bruce fyfe

When eatdrink photographer

Bruce Fyfe bought a traditional

and classic, centre hall, two

story home in London’s

Sherwood Forest neighbourhood five years

ago he was excited to be moving closer to

his job at Western Libraries and to Banting

Secondary School where his daughter would

continue her French Immersion education.

He knew it would be a good investment for

his family to be located in one of London’s

neighbourhoods loved for its trees, large lots,

nearby parkland and quiet streets.

However, Bruce was also taking on a 1970’s

home which had never undergone upgrades

or renovations. The house had been lovingly

maintained by original owners who didn’t

care to change the layout which included a

small and well-worn set of kitchen cabinets,

a narrow hallway between the front door

and kitchen and a separate dining room.

The dream for Bruce, an enthusiastic

home cook who was single-handedly raising

teenagers, was to turn this traditional but

somewhat dated home into a modern space

where he could gather with his family while

enjoying cooking. He had renovated a

kitchen in his last home as a do-it-yourself

project. This time he knew he had to call in

the professionals to take down walls, install

flush support beams, remove windows and

guide the project. It would be a complete

gut, chuck and rebuild.

“It all started when

my daughter said she

wanted an island in

the kitchen,” recalls

Bruce. “She wanted

to hang out with her

friends in the house

and we didn’t have

the right kind of

space for that.”

The renovation includes a glass and slate mosaic

backsplash, and island with butcher block

Enter Bonnie and Craig Hardy of

Covenant Construction, a family owned

company based in London for more than 20

years and operated by a husband and wife

team, which connected well with Bruce’s

hopes for family space.

BEFORE: The original kitchen

was closed in and worn out 35

Bruce was clear he wanted the walls to

come down creating a 500-square-foot open

kitchen with dining space. He also wanted a

gas stove and lots of cupboards for his large

collection of cookware, spices and bulk food

purchases. The project would also include a

main floor bathroom renovation.

With Bonnie as designer, the island was

made the focal point of the new space. It has

seating for four and a built in butcher block.

A pantry was built around the fridge while a

second beverage centre was added to ease

pressure on the fridge and provide easy

entertaining. Two windows were removed

and a new

one added

across the

back of the

house, along

with a large

window in

the back door,

bringing in

natural light

from the back


“The key

to any great

design is


says Bonnie

Transformations to suit your lifestyle and dreams!


This elegant wine room

is actually a dining room

transformation. This 600-

bottle wine room is complete

with a sophisticated cooling

system, granite countertops

and custom-crafted oil-finished

mahogany cabinetry, coffered

ceiling and paneled walls.

What can we do for you?

844 Willow Dr., London, ON 519.473.1500 |

Removing walls opened up the kitchen, creating an inviting and multi-purpose space

Hardy. She quickly picked up on the family’s

needs and added some flair.

“Bruce talked about his cameras and

photography passion and I immediately

knew we needed a place to display both

his cameras and his art. We mirrored

the floating shelf theme from above the

bar area, to the bathroom vanity. Bruce

loves to cook so a butcher block was a

natural item to include in the renovation.

Dogs, kids and busy life meant that very

durable flooring was important. Lighting is

especially important for open concept multipurpose

spaces for homework, cooking,


And, raising teenagers herself, Bonnie knew

that cellphones, iPads and chargers were the

kinds of things that get dumped on kitchen

counters. So, a narrow cabinet with access to

power was added to keep everything charged

and away from cooking areas.





“If you have teenagers to communicate

with then you need a command centre. It

all comes out of the conversation with the

client,” says Bonnie.

Wanting low maintenance, Bruce opted

for Hanstone quartz countertops by Coni

Marble. “When I first visited the Covenant

showroom it was all about white cupboards.

But I was nervous to have white because it

seemed too stark,” he says. They settled on

a combination of lacquered and stained

cabinetry by Inspired Woodworks with

raised panel doors. The lacquered cabinets

are Benjamin Moore White Down and the

island/bar area/stair railings are Chestnut

on Maple. The butcher block is natural end

cut maple.

Working on an original home, untouched

by previous renovations, was actually a

dream for Craig Hardy. He had done other

houses of the same vintage so he knew he



Large Additions

Victorian Restorations


№ 45 | January/February 2014 37

had to give allowances (keeping a five to

ten percent slush in the budget) “for those

unforeseen water stacks, or HVAC issues that

no one could see. Houses hide their secrets

well,” says Craig. Luckily, for Bruce, his wellmade

house hid no secrets! Led by Covenant

foreman Graham Bice, the team did fix some

creaky stairs and a small leak, but otherwise

it was a straightforward job allowing them to

finish on schedule and on budget. Bice was

on site daily for over 10 weeks, co-ordinating

service providers, doing clean-up and even

hanging pictures!

Finishing touches such as a glass and slate

mosaic backsplash provided through Greco

Tile, a new staircase railing by Heritage

Stair & Railing, and a splash of colour on an

accent wall (Bonaparte by Benjamin Moore)

tied in well with black lighting fixtures from

London Lighting. Plumbing fixtures were

also sourced locally, from London Bath

Centre. Stainless steel GE profile appliances

were purchased to complete the look.

Bruce is now enjoying the benefits of

a modern main floor combined with the

structure and setting of a traditional home

in a great neighbourhood. “I really love

living in this area. It is great to have modern

touches combined with a classic home, and

lots of room for my family.”

The Covenant team has done many large

renovations to traditional homes, providing

seamless changes even when walls and

beams are involved. “Building science is

changing so much, and design has come

such a long way. What wall? Where’s the

plumbing? Electrical — no problem, it can

all be moved,” says Bonnie Hardy. “It is

time to be creative within the footprint of

the home.”

A butcher block counter space was a natural

consideration for a homeowner who loves to cook

JANE ANTONIAK is a regular contributor to eatdrink

magazine. She is also Manager, Communications & Media

Relations, King’s University College Western.

BRUCE FYFE gladly photographed his own kitchen

renovation for this assignment. Often he can be found on the

road for eatdrink as a contributing photographer. Bruce is also

Librarian, Weldon Library, Western University.

Interested in Learning How to Clean Deeper & Chemical Free?

Clean your kitchen—and EVERY room—with just ENJO & water!

No Chemicals • Safer • Faster • Easier


519-859-2508 •


№ 45 | January/February 2014

The BUZZ ... new and notable

Newer Kids on the Block

Gabriel Sepulveda, a native of Chile, opened the Latin-American

inspired Mas Café in downtown London a year ago. Sepulveda is an

excellent cook. Mas Café locally sources its ingredients, including its

butcher products. Pork or Beef Milanesa (breaded and fried cutlet

sandwich) alone is worth the visit. Merkén, or merquén, is a smoked

spice blend made with smoked chilies known as Cacho de Cabra or

“horn of the goat.” The dried chilies are combined with coriander,

cumin and other spices to create a unique flavour profile in many

of his delicious offerings. Aromatic empanadas, a savoury treat, are

stuffed with a variety of traditional fillings, and churros, delicious fried

choux paste doughnuts, are made-to-order and filled with manjar de

leche. 192 Dundas St.

Lee Chul Wha’s Korean Restaurant continues to get great wordof-mouth

with its delicious versions of bibimbap and bulgogi. Both

the cabbage and the fermented radish kimchee at the Korean Restaurant

are fiery and crunchy. 170 Adelaide St. N (at Hamilton Road)

Chef Trinh’s CHI HI Vietnamese is the latest restaurant to open

its doors in the OEV. The traditional Vietnamese fare includes black

bean tofu subs, beef subs, pad Thai, vegetarian Singapore noodles

and black bean tofu vermicelli. It is quickly making a name for its

Vietnamese subs. 791 Dundas St. (beside Aeolian Hall at Rectory)

Uber-restaurateur/caterer Jess Jazey-Spoelstra of The River

Room Café and Private Dining and North Moore Catering is

getting set to open the Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shop

in the premises previously occupied by the gift shop at Museum

London. (Museum London, Ridout Street N.


2014 London Wine and Food Show

Bigger and Tastier! The 2014 London Wine and Food Show

expands to take over the West Annex and the Canada and Progress

Buildings, with even more high-end wine and food experiences,

complimented by an eclectic mix of industry experts, culinary

masters and educational tasting sessions.

With never a dull moment to be had, guests can look forward to

the 70’s inspired Constellation Disco within the show. You and

your friends can take a break from the aisles and aisles of domestic

wines, imported beers, spirits and food samples. Kick-back on glowin-the-dark,

LED lit couches, and if the mood is right shake your

bootie under the mirror ball on the multi-coloured disco dance floor.

Enjoy some tasty treats on LondonLicious Lane. This

restaurant showcase focuses on local eateries and offers discounted

lunch and dinner by participating restaurants. Walk the aisles

of this fantastic food and wine showcase and check out your

favourite eatery, or find a hidden gem and make a reservation for

LondonLicious beginning January 24, 2014.

Visit the new garage-themed Man Cave. All the guys (and gals)

will enjoy a taste of beer, spirits, and wine with manly consumers

January 24 th – February 9 th

№ 45 | January/February 2014 39

in mind. Catch the NFL Wild Card games in the Moosehead Lounge,

and bikes from Inglis Cycle and Hot Rods from In Time Hot Rods will

provide a little eye candy in man’s land.

This event is the ultimate place to explore new tastes and

discover the latest culinary trends. Cheese presentations by Dairy

Farmers of Canada as well as exhibitors from across London and

south-western Ontario provide a show full of flavours. Purchase

sample tickets from booths on the show floor and start your walkaround

wine and food tasting tour.

The much anticipated London Wine and Food Show red carpet

premiere takes place Thursday, January 16, 2014 sponsored by

Harrison Pensa, KPMG and Libro Credit Union and includes the

evening’s recipe for success: a highly anticipated stage show with

Chef Bob Blumer of Food Network® fame. Bob is the creator

and host of Glutton for Punishment and Surreal Gourmet, both of

which air on the Food Network® along with his latest show, World’s

Weirdest Restaurants. Adding to the evening’s atmosphere, It’s

a String Thing brings the beautiful sounds of several stringed

instruments to serenade guests as they sample a scrumptious blend

of all that interests the savvy wine and food connoisseur.

Friday Night is the ever-popular Ladies Night, highlighting some

of the industry’s hottest new products and promising the first 250

women through the doors a delightful gift bag. Take in a trendy

fashion show highlighting the latest styles from Nova Vita and, on

tap for this special evening, a ‘ladies only’ beer seminar.

Saturday is the finale of the three-day event and your last chance

to sip and taste the wide variety of wine and food available. Saturday

evening Savour the Night, sponsored by South Western Ontario

Tourism Corporation, will entertain and inspire guests as food and wine

ideas continue to tantalize attendees walking the aisles or partaking

of an educational seminar or demonstration. The final evening also

includes the ever-popular Jack Astor’s Flair Competition, a singles

and couples bartender challenge that shows off some of the best in the

business of drink slinging.

Admission to the show is $15 at the door, or $12 in advance of

opening day. Advance ticket purchasers benefit from two show

entry points and can access a special express line at each entrance,

thereby avoiding waiting in line with walk up patrons! If you need

more sample coupons look for ticket booths throughout the show: 10

Sample Coupons for $10. Show hours are 5 pm to 10:30 pm Thursday

and Friday and 12 pm till 10:30 pm on Saturday.

You won’t get Heinz ketchup at Mike Smith’s restaurants anymore,

due to a symbolic protest against Heinz closing its Leamington

plant and putting 1,000 people out of work. The decision to close

the Leamington plant is also expected to decimate the businesses

of many area tomato growers. “I look what that decision is going to

do to Leamington. It’s not just a setback — that’s huge,” said Smith,

owner of Joe Kool’s, Fellini Koolini’s and P Za Pie, along with

two London bars. “Heinz is allowed to make a corporate decision,

but I’m making a corporate decision not to buy their product,” Smith

said. “I hope others do the same.”

Built in 1893, home to the Featherbone Corset Co., and more

recently the site of the Bud Gowan antique store, the building on

Clarence Street was purchased by John Fyfe-Millar in September

2012. At the time Fyfe-Millar said, “What London needs is a stylish

wine bar, featuring an appetizer menu and jazz, a place where mature

From the Field

to Our Kitchen to

EST. 1996

Your Table

Local Ontario Ingredients

Non-GMO • Organic Lines

Canning Classes

Wedding Favours & Gift Baskets Available

London, Ontario

519-680-7912 •


crowds can go for a drink before or after an evening out. There are

a lot of fabulous places to dine downtown. Ours will be a lounge

area where you can have a drink, a glass of wine and enjoy some

music.” Jess Jazey-Spoelstra tells eatdrink that she and Fyfe-Millar

have come to an agreement and in fall of 2014 she will be opening

something very special in the premises.

Windermere Manor’s Executive Chef Kristain Crossen built a stellar

culinary reputation at the late lamented Braise Food and Wine, at Carter’s

on Downie in Stratford, and at Langdon Hall with his sustainable culinary

philosophy, and farm-to-table sensibility. On his new menus Chef and

his culinary team showcase a selection of old favourites, signature

ingredients, and taste experiences that change to take advantage of the


Meats & So Much More!

Hormone & Drug-Free Beef, Pork, Bison & Lamb

100% Local — from Our Farmers to Your Table

Organic grass-fed beef now available!

We are your London outlet for Metzger Meat Products,

The Whole Pig , Blanbrook Bison Farm and Lena’s Lamb,

with sauces and spices from The Garlic Box, Pristine Olive,

Stonewall Kitchen, Hot Mamas and the

Hot Saucy

counter with jerks, rubs, mustards & aioli.

Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market: Saturdays, 8am–3pm

226-376-6328 •



Home Delivery Service

from London’s Favourite

Organic Bakery & Café



№ 45 | January/February 2014

The Raja, London’s popular Indian fine dining hot spot, has changed

hours slightly, and is now open for lunch and dinner from Monday to

Saturday, and closed Sundays.

Johnathon Gushue, former executive chef of Cambridge’s

renowned Langdon Hall, is the new culinary director at the Torontobased

Queen Margherita Pizza. Gushue has been replaced by

former Luma Restaurant executive chef Jason Bangerter.

As a community group, Startup London aims to foster

entrepreneurship in the city by providing people with a singular

source for startup news, events, resources, and a place to connect.

Startup London is a grassroots community organization that is a part

of the national Startup Canada not-for-profit organization. Startup

London defines a startup as “an early stage organization with limited

resources, experimenting with development of a business model, and

searching for sustainability.”

Startup Drinks is the umbrella term used for Startup London’s

networking events. Startup Drinks is held on the last Wednesday of

every month. The organizers choose to hold their events at venues

like Pub Milos, as opposed to franchise locations, because they

realize that an entrepreneurial ecosystem incorporates everyone

equally from the local hobby farm to the high-rise firm.

Fanshawe College professor Scott Baechler, along with

Culinary Team Canada, won gold and silver at the Salon

Culinaire Mondial competition in Basil, Switzerland. “It has been

a huge honour and privilege to participate in this competition,”

Baechler said in a statement. “It has been exhilarating, but also very

intense. This is a game of fatigue as much as skill.” Baechler says he

learned some new techniques from his colleagues and competitors,

and plans to bring those skills back to the classroom.

The Salon Culinaire Mondial is held every six years, and is

considered one of the three most prestigious international teamcooking

competitions in the world. This year, more than 80,000

visitors attended the competition.

Patrick Dunham’s Kingfisher Coffee is a 100% Canadianowned

wholesale coffee roaster on a mission to provide the

highest quality blends that are locally roasted in London and

ethically sourced. The company caters to the individual needs

of customers while demonstrating proven and transparent

community involvement. The business was borne out of a

partnership between a café owner and a coffee roaster.

Starting in the restaurant business at the age of 15, Dunham

received his Red Seal Chef Certificate at the age of 21. After

traveling and cooking across Canada and Europe he settled in


OrganicWorks@home Order!

It’s as EASY as 1-2-3:

1. Order Online before Sunday midnight, for

Tuesday delivery. The Menus are posted.

2. Orders are delivered to your home or office

Tuesday between 10am and 3pm.

3. Order again the following week and return

your bags and jars for us to pick up.

222 Wellington St. London


№ 45 | January/February 2014

London Ontario. Dunham worked and managed many different

food service establishments and has been an integral part of all

aspects of the restaurant business.

After cooking for 15 years, Dunham turned his attention to

roasting coffee and expanding his understanding of the coffee

industry. Dunham has traveled across North America and to coffee

farms learning all aspects of the coffee business from roasting

and cupping to selling. Former Lead Roaster and Manager of Fire

Roasted Coffee Company, he presided at the Western Fair

Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market location for six years.

Felipe Gomes’s Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant evokes a

strong old world ambiance. Established in 2001, Gomes provides

an experiential culinary offering, with amenities and facilities

for cooking classes, corporate team building exercises and a

private conference room for up to 30. Gomes recently opened The

Aroma Café as a Parisian- inspired coffee house, offering patrons

a selection of speciality sandwiches, café au lait, croissants and

patisserie. Aroma Café is the latest in a string of upmarket cafés

that are part grab-and-go café, part bakery, and part casual dine-in

restaurant. The café is attached to the restaurant, which fronts on

Piccadilly St.

Gregg and Justin Wolfe are currently working on opening “Rock

Au Taco” next door to the Early Bird Diner. The idea is to have the

small takeout taco bar with limited seats, that will also serve the

Early Bird eat in customers if they want anything from the Taco list.

London Ontario’s premier Historic Inn is under new management.

Now owned and operated by Farhi Holdings Corporation,

Idlewyld Inn & Spa joins Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in the Farhi

portfolio. Built in 1878 for former mayor Charles Smith Hyman, it

was transformed into an inn in 1986. In October 2013, the Idelwyld’s

then-owner Marcel Butchey announced it would be closing just over

two years after he had purchased the business from former owners,

John and Christine Kropp. Butchey told eatdrink that he would be

returning to Switzerland. By the grand re-opening in April 2014, Farhi

says he is hoping to employ between 30 and 40 staff.

Billy’s Deli on Dundas Street has been a downtown landmark

for over thirty years. For the last eight years, Jeff Harvey has

cooked up delicious meals at the deli. In mid-December, Harvey

and his wife Sandi officially became the new owners, buying the

establishment from Joe and Diane Pritchard, who have owned

it since 2004. They took over from Vicci and Jon Coughlin, owner/

operators of Telegraph House Heritage Inn and Harbourtown

Fudge in Port Stanley, who ran it for 18 years.

Overall, combining the desktop and mobile page views from

January 1, 2013 to December 2, 2013, the Places to Eat section on

Tourism London’s website has been viewed 331,094 times.

Kingsmill’s, the landmark downtown department store, could

soon be become a shared headquarters for a number of community

and arts agencies. The building was put up for sale in September,

with the pending retirement of Tim Kingsmill, the fifth generation

of his family to operate the landmark store, which opened in 1865.

Pillar Nonprofit Network has put in a conditional offer

for the building, and has already lined up Emerging Leaders,

the London Arts Council and the London Heritage Council

as tenants, and has informal commitments from other groups.

Michelle Baldwin, executive director of Pillar Nonprofit Network,

Your love of all things Italian begins at


a 3-course

prix fixe menu


432 Richmond St.

at Carling • London

№ 45 | January/February 2014

café open

tues to fri, 11–4

sun brunch, 11–4







at MUSEUM LONDON | 519.850.2287

“Reasonably priced, fresh, well-executed

Ethiopian cuisine ...” — Bryan Lavery, eatdrink magazine

• Vegetarian


• Takeout

• Catering

• Reservations


ADDIS ABABA Restaurant

Tues–Fri 5–1pm • Sat 12–1pm • Sun 2–1pm

465 Dundas Street 519 433-4222

says the four agencies would occupy about 30,000 sq. ft. on the

upper floors of the 73,000 sq. ft. building.

“The Pillar Network had been working on a shared-space

concept for years and had developed a business plan. Pillar is

looking for more potential tenants to make the concept work,

including a ground-floor retail tenant. When this building came

along we knew it would be an exceptional fit,” says Baldwin. The

total investment in the building including the purchase price and

renovation is about $6.3 million. They are looking for a tenant for

10,000 square feet on the main floor.

Your inner epicure will delight at the tasty destinations along

Ontario’s Southwest Dining Detours. Be sure to head to The

Early Bird diner for a decadent wake up call named The Fat Elvis.

This heavenly French toast sandwich is stuffed, and we mean

stuffed, with smoked bacon and Elvis’ favourite combo of peanut

butter, panko-fried bananas and honey and topped with maple


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 give patrons what they want, consistently,

and that is why the restaurant is “perennially popular.” There

is no attempt to be trendy or cutting edge at Michael’s. The

restaurant has recently been refurbished to create a renewed

sense of comfort and well-being.

Classic tableside cooking is part of the innate charm of

Michaels On The Thames. Caesar salad for two is prepared

tableside, as well as flaming dishes: steak Diane, Brome Lake

duck à l’Orange, sole meunière, pepper steak and chateaubriand.

Cherries jubilee and strawberries alla “Marco” for two are among

the items on offer for dessert. It’s classic French flambé for

traditionalists who prefer a bit of flair in their dining presentation

— and appreciate a bit of flare with their tableside preparation.

There are also many à la carte selections on the extensive menu

that mostly sticks to familiar classics.

For several years, trü restaurant and lounge was at the top of

the restaurant game in London, employing some of our present-day

restaurant stars. After almost nine years to the day, trü has closed its

doors and ceased operations.

Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has appointed Jeff

Schiller as manager of YOU Made It Enterprises. Schiller

has previous experience as a management recruiter and trainer

with General Mills Restaurants. He will lead Youth Opportunities

Unlimited’s five social-enterprise businesses: recycling, wood

products, Market Quality Preserves, YOU Made It Cafe and

YOU Made It retail kiosk at Covent Garden Market.

A Taste for Life started in Ottawa in 1999 in support of Bruce

House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation. Since then,

Ottawa has been joined by 23 communities from Newfoundland

to Alberta. Participating Taste restaurants open their doors on

April 23rd and donate 25% of their evening sales to AIDS Service

Organizations in their community. Support the men, women

and children in your community by going out to dinner. Since its

inception A Taste for Life has raised over $550,000 and the agency,

now Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC), serves the

regions of Perth, Huron, Oxford, Elgin, Lambton and Middlesex

counties. There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS. The number of

№ 45 | January/February 2014 43

clients needing support and services has also grown. It is more

important than ever for A Taste for Life to both exist and flourish.

Monforte on Wellington in Stratford is among the new

participants this year.

Chris and Mary Woolf are returning to St. Marys, at 159 Queen

Street. Little Red’s Pub and Eatery will be opening early

February. Chris and Mary Woolf always made a sojourn to the

former Woolfy’s well worth the drive. The Woolfs have been true

pioneers when it comes to supporting culinary regionalism, as

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. They know how to provide a warm and

welcoming ambience.


The restaurant and lounge are now open at The Bruce, with the hotel

opening May 24th 2014. The Restaurant is open for dinner Thursday

through Saturday at 5:00 pm with the last reservation at 9:00 pm; The

Lounge is open late night.

Executive Chef Aaron Linley describes his menu as “Nouveau

Ontario” — imaginative, ambitious, eclectic cuisine marrying

global influence, modern French technique and the very best of

Ontario. Bronwyn Linley is the Food and Beverage Manager.

Owner Jennifer Birmingham sits on the board of the Stratford

Festival, Stratford Summer Music, is in the cabinet of the Transplant

Campaign at Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, and

is a front line volunteer for Perth County Victim Services. In her free

time, Jennifer can be found out and about with her trusty sidekick

Eddie (the Golden Doodle) or scoping out luxury hotels in the name

of research.

Critically acclaimed international chefs are invited for one week to

demonstrate their unique culinary visions as International Chef in

Residence at the Stratford Chefs School. From January 14–18,

the school welcomes celebrated chef Ben Shewry from Attica

in Melbourne, Australia. Includes wine pairings. Reservations

are required. 6:30–9:30 pm The Prune, 151 Albert St., Stratford.,

From January 21–25, the school welcomes celebrated chef

Alexandre Gauthier from La Grenouillère in Madelaine-sous-

Montreuil, France. Includes wine pairings. Reservations are required.

6:30–9:30 pm The Prune, 151 Albert St., Stratford, stratfordchef.


Stratford Chefs School Dinner International Inspirations. Four

to six course prix fixe dinner menus are served with this series. Menus

feature selected International chefs’ renowned culinary styles and

it includes wine pairings. Reservations required. 6:30–9:30 pm The

Prune, 151 Albert St., Stratford, January 7–11, 2014.,

Stratford Chefs School Lunch Series. Three course menus created

daily by Level 2 students are served. Walk in guests are welcome,

however reservations are strongly suggested as seating is limited.

11:30 am–2:30 pm Rene’s Bistro, 20 Wellington Street, Stratford,

January 10 & 11, 17 & 18, 24 &25, 31 & February 1, 7 & 8, 14 & 15, 2014 .,





Every Night Is

a Great Night

for Something Special


• Best Fine Dining

• Most Romantic

• Best Atmosphere



Cooking &

London’s Best

Caesar Salad

Lunch Weekdays

Dinner 7 Nights a Week

1 York St. (just W of Ridout)

Ample Free Parking

Baby Grand Pianist 6 Nights a Week with Reservations • 519-672-0111


№ 45 | January/February 2014

Vintage Hotels is thrilled to welcome The Parlour Historic Inn

& Suites in downtown Stratford, Ontario to its collection of luxury

properties. Effective December 1, 2013, The Parlour Inn will operate

as a Vintage Hotel under the leadership and guidance of current

owners, Bill and Shelley Windsor. Vintage Hotels will assume full

ownership of the property on February 3, 2014.

The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival

presented by GE Café Appliances will now take place earlier in

the summer, on the weekend of July 18–20th. Historically held in

September, the event has become one of Ontario’s largest food

festivals celebrating local cuisine, talented chefs and passionate

food producers.


Classes starting in March

Register now!





For more information on courses & to register visit:




There’s a lot going on at Mercer Hall these days. The Craft Beer

Dinner Series starts Jan 16th with Lake of Bays Brewery, Feb

20th is Muskoka, Mar 20th Silversmith, and Beau’s comes on

April 17. Book your seats, they’re limited. Only $60/person includes

a 4-course chef-inspired menu & four 10 oz craft brews! Limited

seating, meet the brewery reps and talk about craft beer.

Supper Club — James Bond 007. Dust off your tuxedo and

prepare to drink martinis — shaken, not stirred! The long-tabled

dinner series continues with a culinary adventure drawn from the

original Sir Ian Fleming books and the extensive narrative regarding

Bond’s dining habits. Themed attire is encouraged but not required. 6

pm—10 pm. Mercer Hall, 108 Ontario Street, Stratford, January 26,


Every Thursday night at Mercer Hall it’s Champagne and

Oysters! Satisfy your oyster craving with $2 oysters and enjoy a

lovely sparkling wine by the glass or bottle.

Canadian Celebrity Chefs Dinner: Chefs from across Canada,

many of whom are Stratford Chefs School alumni, come to the

school to share their skills and experience. Wine pairings included.

Reservations are required. 6:30–9:30 pm., The Prune, 151 Albert

St., Stratford, January 28–February 1, 2014.,

Rundles has announced that it will be open for its 37th season next

year from May 23 to September 20, 2014.

Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market has moved indoors

to The Local Community Food Centre, 612 Erie Street, Stratford.

Shop and support producers who practice good, clean and fair

principles at this welcoming facility. Sundays 10 am–2 pm.

Love local food and great music? Join the crew at Molly Blooms

Stratford on a Thursday or Saturday for great specials and live

entertainment. 26 Brunswick St., Stratford.

Stratford Farmers’ Market is a year round market operating since

1855 at the Stratford Rotary Complex Agriplex. Fresh produce,

crafts, meat and cheese are on offer. 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. 7

am–12 pm.

The popular winter bistro dinner menu is back at the Keystone

Alley Café, 34 Brunswick St., Stratford. Enjoy two courses for $24.95

or three courses for $31.95.

Stratford Says Cheese! Week, to celebrate the Canadian Dairy XPO.

Stratford and area restaurants have created special menus to highlight

Upbeat Lunches | Intimate Dinners | Dietary Needs Accommodated | Ample Free Parking





bistro & caterer

46 Blackfriars Street, London | 519-667-4930 |

№ 45 | January/February 2014 45

their signature local cheese dishes. Visit these businesses and ask for the

Stratford Says Cheese! specials: Boomers Gourmet Fries, Canadian

Grub to Go, The County Food Co., Downie Street Burgers,

Fellini’s Italian Mediterranean, Foster’s Inn, Let Them Eat Cake

Restaurant & Dessert Cafe, Madelyn’s Diner, Monforte on

Wellington and The Parlour. February 2–9

CheeseFEST is a complimentary networking social bringing the

dairy products, commercial industry and the consumer together

all under one roof. CheeseFEST takes place on the first evening

of the Canadian Dairy XPO (CDX). CDX is fusing the gap between

the Canadian dairy producer and the general consumer, while

promoting the category of high quality and healthy Canadian dairy

products. Features of the night will include a massive cheese buffet

featuring cow, sheep, goat, Ayrshire and water buffalo cheeses, a

world renowned cheese carver, local wines and micro brews (cash

bar), European hospitality hub featuring Dutch specialty foods, 4-H

Agri-Youth fundraising activities and live entertainment, with a

fiddle band from 4–7pm. February 5. Stratford Rotary Complex,

353 McCarthy Road, Stratford.

Savour Stratford Tutored Tastings

January 25: Beer and Cheese of the British Isles: English, Irish,

Scottish and Welsh representation. Some interesting combinations to

ponder and taste.

February 15: Beers from the Niagara Region and Ontario

Cheese. Good things grow (and ferment!) in Ontario! Come and try

out some of the province’s best local fare. ,

February 22: Belgian Beer and Cheese. The history of beer and

cheese making dates far back in Belgium and as a result, some of

the best beer and cheese in the world comes from this area. Come

and discover some extraordinary pairings.

Tastings take place at The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop, 118

Ontario St., Stratford, 3 pm–5 pm. Age of majority

required. Tickets are available for purchase on-line or by chance at the

beginning of the tasting.

Gala Preview Dinner with the Stratford Chefs School. A

sparkling preview of our Annual Gala Dinner in Toronto — a four

course dinner with wine pairings. Reservations required. 6:30–9:30

pm, The Prune, 151 Albert St., Stratford. February 21, 2014,

Stratford Garden Festival: “Beyond the Garden Gate” is the

inspiration for this annual indoor garden event. The Opening Garden

Party marries delectable food and drink with the ultimate sneak

peak amid live music and innovative garden displays. Presented by

The Lung Association and sponsored by Orr Insurance at the Rotary

Complex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. February 27–March 2. Get all

the dirt at

Our readers want to know, so send us info about your culinary

events, fundraisers, and regional news. We’ll print as much as

we can, and there is no charge for this service. With BUZZ in

the Subject line, send to:

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№ 45 | January/February 2014


Fabulous Ontario Fireplace Reds

By kim miller

It’s the dead of winter and you have just

finished a particularly gruelling day at

the office. Emerging from the building,

you are greeted by total darkness, pierced

only by the lights of the vast parking lot, which

really only serve to illuminate the enormous

flakes of falling snow. You thoroughly clear

the snow from your car, but as you open the

driver’s door that annoying tuft of snow makes

its way in onto your car seat. You brush it off

with utter indignation. The warmth of the

fireplace and red wine seem so far away ...

The best way I know to wind down after

the slow, painstaking drive home is to light

a fire and open one (or perhaps even two)

of my favourite Ontario red wines. Here are

three red wines of distinction that come

from the Niagara region.

Zweigelt is a relative infant in the world of

vitis vinifera. The variety was first introduced

in Austria in 1922 and to this day it remains the

most popular red varietal there. Derek Barnett

is a dedicated Ontario vintner who has worked

to develop this grape in Niagara for many

years. His Lailey Vineyard 2012 Niagara River

Zweigelt is definitely a must-taste, and is only

$14 a bottle. (Available only from the winery.)

The initial nose is heaped with barnyard

and dark berry fruit. The wine itself is a truly

beautiful dark ruby colour. On the palate

you can expect flavours of dark cherry and

strawberry. Though typical of this type of

grape, the mouth feel did not prepare me for

the intense and peppery finish. This is by far

the best expression of a zweigelt I’ve tasted to

date. Well done, Mr. Barnett, for bringing forth

the best flavours from a tough varietal.

Inniskillin will always hold a place in

my heart due to the fact that it is one of the

founders of our winemaking industry in

Canada. In 1974 Inniskillin¸ through the tireless

efforts of Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, was

bestowed with the distinction of being granted

the first post-prohibition license in the region

of Niagara. This allowed them to grow grapes

for the production and sale of wine.

I recently tasted a 2012 Inniskillin

Pinot Noir, as the “heartbreak” grape

is one of my weaknesses. Pinot Noir

earned this nickname by being not

only difficult to grow, but also difficult

to turn into wine, often breaking

the heart of the winemaker,

when, despite his best efforts, he is

greeted only with disappointment

at sampling time. Thankfully such

was not the case with this bottle.

Its colour is a light garnet and

by first examination the wine

will likely age well for a few more

years. On the nose are intriguing

tones of mustard, leather and dark

chocolate. On the palate the flavours

become more minerally, yet

showing layers of strawberry and blueberry

mingling with the chocolate. This wine displays

a full flavoured and long lingering finish

of blackberries and vanilla. It is an excellent

expression of what a pinot noir can offer.

My personal favourite among the three

was House Wine Co.’s 2010 Cabernet Shiraz

blend. Known not only for their fabulous

wines but also for their brilliant marketing

ploys, the Speck brothers continue to

deliver superior and innovative products

year after year. This wine comes dressed in

№ 45 | January/February 2014 47

a boldly contemporary label, styled after a

chalkboard, which provides their “house

rules” (only one of which I’ve managed

not to break here). At only $12.95 this is a

delicious and approachable bottle of wine.

The colour is dark and rich.

Swirling in the glass, it displays

an unusually heavy viscosity for

a cool climate red. This wine has

elements on the nose of a classic

French cab, giving off scents of

barnyard and mineral. However,

the shiraz shines through on the

palate with a great balance of

ripe red fruits and pepper tones

while achieving a lovely soft

and velvety mouth feel. Ending

with a long, smooth finish, and

still bursting with flavour, this

beautifully crafted wine is a


To enhance the enjoyment

of all different varietals of red

wine from around the world I offer you the

following tips:

1. Decant, decant, decant.

2. Drink from a good quality glass.

3. Curl up in

front of a fire.

If you follow

these simple

steps you are

sure to derive

the most

pleasure possible

from your

wine tasting


So, hopefully

you will

soon find

yourself in

your favourite

chair, curled up in front of the fireplace

with your wine glass in hand. Looking out

the window now, you will be able to finally

appreciate the slowly falling flakes for all

their natural beauty. Embrace the winter

with fabulous fireplace reds from Niagara.


Kim Miller lives in London with her spouse and two

children. This is why she studies the many attributes of wine...


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№ 45 | January/February 2014

Beer beer matters

A Year of Big Beers and Fine Imports

By The Malt Monk

I’d like to start by wishing eatdrink

readers a belated happy holiday

season and hope you experienced the

warmth that the time of year brings,

with good food and drink shared with

friends, relatives and special people. This

fall/early winter was also a period of

blissful warmth with both locally

crafted and import brews being

big and dark and satisfying.

Looking back at 2013 craft

brewing, we see indications

the local craft beer culture is

growing and maturing in its

tastes. Last year saw six new

craft brewing ventures open in

our area — Forked River, Block

Three, Northwinds, Rambling Road,

5 Paddles and Left Field Brewing, as well

as new brewing companies like Bell City

Brewing, Collective Arts, Liberty Village,

Radical Road and Ontario Brewing Company.

(Brewing ventures have capital equipment

i.e. they bought and use their own

brewing equipment to produce their beer.

Brewing companies are marketing companies

who have their beer contract brewed by

someone else, usually a local craft brewer

with some spare production capacity.)

This activity is further evidence the local

craft beer industry is growing as the craft

beer culture matures and becomes more

entrenched in the epicurean culture and

hospitality industries. It’s a good time to be

a craft brewer in Ontario — it’s also a good

time to be a craft beer consumer in this local

market. Just a few short years ago I would

never have imagined the rapid expansion of

beer variety and the eclectic tastes of

craft beer consumers we have seen

in the last year.

This cultural coming of age of

the craft beer consumer seems

to be reflected in the number

and variety of outstanding

beers that were released last

year. As tastes mature there is

an appreciation for more eclectic

brewing, for big robust satisfying

brews (drinking better, not more),

and we find that brewers are not afraid to

push conventional boundaries. More robust,

stronger brews are made for pairing with

cuisine rather than sessioning. This maturing

in tastes was embodied in the big brews

released last year — the most memorable

brews of 2013 were big burley beers — barley

wines, Belgians, barrel-conditioned, imperial

ales and lagers. We were treated to a

profusion of these epic beers in both local

seasonal releases and in the import section

of the LCBO. So, without mincing words and

wasting line space, here are the brews that

stood out for me last year.

№ 45 | January/February 2014 49

Local Crafters’ 2013 Notable Brews

Better Bitters Brewing Company/Nickel

Brook Beer has undertaken a bold

expansion of its offerings. Most

recently they went into barrel aging

their big beers — two wet hopped

ales, Russian Bastard imperial

stout and their Immodest double

IPA. Their Malevolent imperial

black IPA impressed me the most.

This is Nickel Brook’s take on the Cascadian ale

style. It’s a dark brown-black ale with a threefinger

puffy off-white cap which has a viscous

mouth feel. Aroma is very roasty with a healthy

pine-citrus hop tone and, yes, there is a minty

note created from the hop-yeast ester combo. The flavour has

big roasty-toasty malts that assault the palate, hops balance

with a resinous piney flare — complexity mid-palate with

some spearmint, smoke, citrus peel, tobacco, roast walnut

skins — then it goes to a rich viscous roasty-piney finish.

Every once in a while a local crafter produces a unique twist

on a style that just lights up your palate — Malevolent is that

type of great brew. I hope it becomes available year-round.

Peter Chodo and the brew team at Flying

Monkeys produced a number of unique,

boundary-bending one-off brews last year.

Among them were three notable offerings,

all big brews: Matador (a cedar barrel

aged imperial west coast IPA), BNL (an

imperial chocolate stout using fresh coca

nibs) and my favourite, Red on Red, an

imperial red ale made in collaboration

with Central City Brewing in BC.

This brew is a lustrous copper-red ale with a foamy

lasting cap and complex aroma big in tropical/exotic

fruits, earthy pine notes and light caramel — pungent

nose to it. Silken delivery but super robust ... the palate

is deluged with lush tones of guava and papaya married

to rich red malt sweet roastiness. The finish is slow and

silky, accented by increased bittering — very lush and

satisfying. I love this big red ale and I buy up all I can get

when it becomes available. I’m hoping it will be released on a

more frequent basis.

Beau’s Natural Brewing continued

to excite interest with a series of

new releases last year — most

notably Beau’s quaffable Opa’s

Gose (a revival rendition of an

esoteric German style from Leipzig,

saline-sour wheat beer), and

Beau’s Winter Brewed (a delicious

strong amber ale infused with fresh

ground coffee). But my picks were,

Beau’s Festivale Plus, a Düsseldorfstyled

Sticke Altbier and Beau’s Kissmeyer

Nordic Pale Ale (done in collaboration with

famed brewer Anders Kissmeyer).

Festivale Plus pours a deep brown-ruby color with a puffy

tawny cap that lasts. Gorgeous aroma of toasty grains, cocoa

and filbert nuts. Medium-bodied, rich slick mouth feel.

Flavour profile has big roasty-nutty malts in the front, then a

decent balance from German noble hops. As the brew breaks

into the finish, the roasty-cocoa-nut flavours intensify to

a hoppy terminus — a rich, robust and satisfying Altbier.

Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale pours a pale hazed straw

color with a large sticky white cap. The aroma is the

highlight of this brew, with the sharp pungent smell of

herbs, herbaceous plants and spicy hops over light bready

pale malt tones. Flavour is hop/herb forward with the

spicy-herbal hop bittering riding just above the biscuity

malts. The finish goes dry with increasing bittering

and a sharp herb-biscuit kiss at the closing. A superbly

designed specialty pale ale, where the natural adjuncts

compliment the hops chosen … very pleasing, very

drinkable and unique.

Cameron’s Brewing refuses to sit on its

success with its great RPA (Rye Pale Ale)

and released a world-class rum barrel-aged

imperial porter called Obsidian.


Cameron’s Obsidian is a good looking ale — dark black — a

bit of ruby highlight, murky, unfiltered. It takes a hard

pour to put a head on it. Two-finger creamy mocha

coloured cap. Aroma is typical of a big porter — dark

fruit, roast, succulent fruits, cocoa and some coffee.

Flavour is more well balanced than you expect of a

big ale — lots of roasty astringency

and hop bittering to balance off

the thick malts — some vanilla,

some light smoke, dried figs. Not

overly complex but pleasant. Long

rich finish with increasing bittering,

clean, roasty. A really good big

porter — good tasting, with light

barrelling flavours. First rate offering from this craft brewer.

Eat Drink Magazine

Sorry, but I can’t stop raving about Bush Pilot

Brewing’s Stormy 1/4 Monday page barley ad wine. To

my mind this was the highlight of last year’s

crafted beer offerings. Yes, it was pretty

gutsy Vertical for this Size: new brewer 2.375” to offer W x such 3.935 a big H

complex beer as its initial or offering but very

welcome —dedicated craft beer devotees like

myself Horizon rarely Size: get to 4.875” taste a brew W this x 1.905” complex. H

This dark opaque big ale’s aroma is complex and layered, rich

in spice, dark fruit, herbaceous tones, bedded malt aromas

— amazing. Similarly, the flavour is complex — almost to a

“Barhopping into History

is a delicious brew of art,

heritage and London bar culture.”

Book available at select downtown

London retailers and on-line at

№ 45 | January/February 2014

point of chaos — assaulting the palate with a cornucopia of

notes from piquant to subtle — spices, fruits, malts, herbs,

wood, hops and various impressions caused by the amalgams

of these. This is barley wine meets spiced ale meets barrel

aging. An amazing offering done in collaboration with famous

artisanal brewer Anders Kissmeyer of Norrebro fame.

Looking back to the lighter brews of last year,

I was really impressed with an offering from

Cheshire Valley Brewing: their Mosaic single

hop pale ale.

CVB Mosaic is a clouded golden coloured ale with a one-finger

dull white cap. Aroma is relatively uncomplicated but very

dulcet — big wafts of earthy-pine notes over bready-sweet

pale malt. The pleasing flavour essentially follows aroma with

uncomplicated earthy-pine tones of the mosaic perfectly

complimenting fresh bready malts — dries out slightly in the

finish and offers some pleasant bittering. A very, very drinkable

APA, uncomplicated but offering rich flavour and soothing.

Notable Imports of 2013

I have to mention the wonderful brews

made available through the LCBO seasonal

and brewer highlight programs. Again, the

best brews released this last year seem to be

consistent with the “big beer” meme that

defined the craft beer landscape in 2013.

All have my hearty

recommendation and

I have quickly rated

them according to

my impression of the

samples I tasted on a

simple 1–100 scale.

St. Feuillien Grand Cru

(Belgian strong blonde

ale): 94

Brasserie Abbaye des Rocs

Grand Cru (strong brown

ale: 99

Amager Rugporter (a big

rye porter): 98

Fuller’s Brewer’s Reserve Limited Edition No 4 (oak-aged

ale Armagnac): 94

Maisel’s Weisse Dunkel (dunkel wheat ale): 98

Le Trou du Diable SMaSH IPA (single malt and single

hop IPA): 92

8 Wired iStout (imperial stout): 96

Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner: 90

Founders Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard (scotch

ales): 89/99

THE MALT MONK is the alter ego of D.R. Hammond, a

passionate supporter of craft beer culture. He invites readers to join in

the dialogue at

№ 45 | January/February 2014 51

Beer matters


Donald DISHES on Theatre


“ Y

ou should be ashamed of

yourself.” The recent comment

to yours truly was not meant as

a compliment, but such lines

are music to my ears. I’m a

producer; I have no shame.

I’m not a natural born producer but I

was a quick study. If you want to survive, let

alone thrive in the theatre world, you had

better be. I get asked all the time, “How does

one do it?” Well, we’ve already established

that I’m shameless — something one is,

not a trait that can be taught.

Nevertheless, I suggest one’s

best bet is to study the publicity

strategies of established theatres.

After reviewing for five

straight years, I still usually

have to search for information

on amateur productions. Since

my website (

is the place for reviews for one

hundred percent of those productions, you

might think sending me info would be a

priority. Think again.

When I put out the call for info on shows

for my debut here at eatdrink I heard from

five amateur companies over a period of

weeks. When I put a call out to professional

theatres to send me info for this issue, I

heard from every one of them

within 24 hours — 55 pages

worth of material! Food for

thought, no? Pro theatres

appreciate the gift that is free

publicity. New companies

often are unprepared and wait

until a week or two before their

production hits the boards

before announcing their shows.

With that in mind, and months ahead of

schedule, here follows just a hint of what

professional theatres in our area will be

offering in ’14:

Victoria Playhouse Petrolia’s new season

will rely on the dynamic combo of laughs,

fiddling and Canadian music — from

Church Basement

Ladies to Fiddler on The

Loose to Canada Sings

The Greatest Music

from Eh! to Zed. You’ll

find yourself saying,

“I didn’t know that was

Canadian!” Expect a tribute to the late, great

Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Drayton Entertainment’s Artistic Director

Alex Mustakas tells us their ambitious new

season playbill is all about expansion to

new territory and audiences,

on stages throughout Ontario:

Dunfield Theatre (Cambridge),

St. Jacobs Schoolhouse

Theatre, Drayton Festival

Theatre, King’s Wharf Theatre

(Penetanguishene), Huron

Country Playhouse and

Playhouse II (Grand Bend).

From chart-busting Broadway

hits to spectacular kid-friendly shows,

exhilarating musical tributes to laugh-outloud

comedies, and some dramatic murder

mysteries, there is something for everyone.

Blyth Festival’s 40th season is a milestone,

their ruby anniversary, and new Artistic

Director Marion de Vries promises it will

be, “a rich colour of commitment, loyalty,

creativity, and love.” She is

recommitting the theatre to its

original mandate: to create and

produce professional Canadian

theatre that reflects the

stories, culture, and concerns

of its community, region,

and beyond. Included is the

world premiere of the musical

Kitchen Radio which Marion

de Vries wrote while Canada Council

Playwright in Residence at Blyth.

Port Stanley Festival’s Artistic Director

Simon Joynes helped to set the theatre’s

record for a second year in a row last year.

The professional Equity theatre welcomed

15,420 patrons and sold out more than half


№ 45 | January/February 2014

a g r a n d e v e n t

s c o t c h & c h o c o l a t e

Welcome to Downton Abbey

Saturday, February 15 2014 | 7 to 10 pm



$75 OR $125*






№ 45 | January/February 2014

Colm Feore Photo By Don Dixon

its 119 performances. ’14 will once again

witness a debut of a new musical (Bingo

Ladies by Grant Tilly) as well as several

comedies, including the old Norm Foster

gem The Melville Boys.

Shaw Festival’s

new season

“positions The

Shaw as a theatre

of contemporary

ideas,” remarks

Artistic Director

Jackie Maxwell.

“Our upcoming

season continues

to explore a unique

mix of works from

both The Shaw’s

original mandate,

and modern works

that not only

embody Bernard

Shaw’s spirited

legacy, but look at the world through a

Shavian lens.”

Shaw’s Studio Theatre continues to be

home for contemporary Shavians, and the

Court House Theatre

playbill will

include a Lunchtime


Shaw Festival and

Obsidian Theatre

in Toronto will

again collaborate

this year with The

Mountaintop, a

daring re-envisioning

of Reverend

Martin Luther King

Jr.’s last night on

earth in Room 306

The Mountaintop,

a production from Shaw

Festival and Obsidian Theatre


of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Finally Maxwell promises to repeat the

hat trick of 2013’s three acclaimed and popular

productions on the main Festival Stage.

The program will feature a re-envisioning of

Cabaret and the Festival’s namesakes’ original

version of The Philanderer.

And what about the granddaddy of them

all in our area, Stratford Festival? Last year

saw the largest jump in attendance since ’99.

Their biggest coup this year will be the return

of Colm Feore after a five-year absence,

to play the title role of King Lear. Under

the guidance of Artistic Director Antoni





BOX OFFICE: 519.782.4353



Cimolino, Lear will open the new season.

Cimolino promises ’14 will be a thrilling

year onstage.

“We have in our

leading roles a

number of actors

who are at the

height of their

powers. This


ensemble will

give us moments

of both cathartic

sadness and giddy

joy as we explore

the many faces of madness presented

through this playbill.”

Each of these Artistic Directors is

Colm Feore as King Lear,

at Stratford Festival

promising the moon. And why not? As Mel

Brooks tells us, “If you’re quiet, you’re not

living. You’ve got to be noisy and colorful

and lively.” Mel’s right! You want bums in the

seats; make some noise!

Happy New Year everyone!

Donald D’Haene is Editor of Twitter @

TheDonaldNorth and email:


№ 45 | January/February 2014


Poor Man’s Feast

A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking

by Elissa Altman

Review by Darin Cook

After winning the 2012 James Beard

Award for Individual Food Blog,

Elissa Altman evolved her blog into

the book Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story

of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple

Cooking (Chronicle Books, 2013, $31.95).

From childhood, Elissa remembers pining

for cordial family dinners happily sharing

food, like “fake families sitting around their

own fake tables eating fake dinners” as seen

on The Partridge Family or The Brady Bunch.

Her memories of the dinner table more

often include silent meals of plain food with

television game shows in the background

like uninvited dinner guests. Except

holiday meals which, in contrast, were

extraordinarily fancy affairs. But between

over-the-top holiday celebrations and

mundane nuclear family meals, she wanted

the familial warmth of a close-knit meal on a

daily basis around a loving table.

Elissa craved conviviality and ultimately

found it as an adult, oddly enough, through

a long-distance romance after sending a

plea through an on-line dating service for a

same-sex relationship with someone who

loved food as much as she did.

That someone was Susan, who

admitted her favourite way of

falling asleep was the foodie’s

equivalent of counting sheep

— reading alphabetical entries

in Larousse Gastronomique.

Elissa was intrigued by Susan

through their on-line chats,

but also sceptical when Susan

admitted to cooking roast beef

for Thanksgiving, thwarting all

tradition in favour of red meat.

But then they discovered their

corresponding love of strong,

pungent cheeses,

and their on-line

talks led to a first


Elissa gained

her reputation

as a die-hard

foodie with hip

jobs at the upscale Dean

& DeLuca grocery stores in SoHo, and

food editor positions for New York webbased

magazines. Susan is from small-town

Connecticut, unfamiliar with the urban

lifestyle that Elissa enjoys. As a couple, it

turns out they have differing outlooks on

food, but are both willing to learn from each

other. Elissa is schooled in culinary basics,

but enjoys Susan’s philosophy that “toast is

the saving grace of otherwise humdrum food

everywhere.” Susan admits to not taking care

of her kitchen knives, which is hard to take

for Elissa who can be fanatical about her

own knife roll, and who writes, “All of them

were kept in pristine condition: the moment

I saw a ding in one of them, I hurried it to a

specialty sharpener on the Lower East Side,

like an hysterical mother who rushes her

baby to the emergency room

after a sniffle.”

The book bounces be tween

her current relationship with

Susan and the past influence

of her parents. Although she

missed out on the Norman

Rockwell family dinners,

Elissa did grow up going to

fine dining establishments in

Manhattan with her father,

secretly being introduced to

gourmet specialties without

Elissa Altman

№ 45 | January/February 2014 55

her weight-obsessed mother overseeing.

Elissa writes: “Manhattan’s hushed halls

of haute cuisine were my father’s temples

of peace and reason, where he went to

shake the detritus of disappointment.” Her

relationship with her mother was more

strained by their polar opposite interests

in food. About her mother, she writes:

“Constantly dieting from the day she turned

fifteen, her staunch enemy has been the

food on her plate. She takes no comfort or

joy in that food; it’s an adversary meant to be

manipulated and manoeuvred. Restaurants

are places not to eat but to be seen.”

But the food she shared with her

father at those restaurants was all the

more comforting, Elissa reveals, after her

parents divorced when she was a teenager.

Even amid her efforts to throw a surprise

anniversary party, the marriage was on the

brink of ending, unable to be saved even

by the solace of a platter of her parents’

favourite deli sandwiches that 16-year-old

Elissa paid for with her own savings.

Similarly, addressing the future of her

long-distance relationship with Susan

takes on a level of seriousness when Elissa

discusses the kind of time it will take to grow

a vegetable garden in Susan’s backyard. It

takes three years after planting asparagus

before it can be harvested — did they have

that kind of commitment? Plus, being a New

Yorker, foraging for food was not in Elissa’s

repertoire — she shopped at grocers and

ate at restaurants. Making a transition from

refined to rustic would be breaking new

ground, testing her relationship as well as

her culinary skills.

The book is full of these juxtapositions

between sophisticated, New York restau rants

and rural, Connecticut cooking. But the story

is mostly about how food has been a constant

presence and a source of comfort for Elissa’s

human connections, and her opening line in

the book puts it beautifully: “There is poetry

in food, kindness in the act of preparing it,

and peace in sharing it.”

DARIN COOK is a freelance writer who works and plays

in Chatham-Kent, and keeps himself well-read and well-fed

by visiting the bookstores and restaurants of London.

Featuring specialty foods, kitchenwares,

tablewares, cooking classes & gift baskets.

115 King Street, London


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№ 45 | January/February 2014


The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook

by David Ort

Pimentos & Piri Piri

Portuguese Comfort Cooking

by Carla Azevedo

Setting a Fine Table

Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York

edited by Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich

A Roundup by chris McDonell


requested a

review copy of

The Canadian

Craft Beer

Cookbook as much

for the title as for

anything else, trusting

that with a credible

author such as David

Ort (particularly well

known in Toronto for his

online contributions to Spotlight Toronto)

and the subject matter at hand, eatdrink

readers would, well, eat this up. To my

surprise, the Whitecap Books publicist sent

a couple of other books to us as well. The

trio was compelling enough that I thought

we should highlight all three.

If “Beer Can Chicken” is as adventurous

as you’ve gone with cooking with beer, Ort’s

book will be an eye-opener. While he also

has plenty of pairing suggestions, almost all

of the 75 different recipes presented include

beer as a key ingredient. As promised, he

sticks to genuine craft beers from across the

country, recommending specific brands

for each recipe. With national distribution

of craft beer what it is (and maybe it is a

good thing that every region has specialties

that only locals can easily find?), Ort also

suggests an import that might be more easily

acquired, as well as describing the type of

beer. I appreciate his recommendations, but

I also like that there is enough information

that I can confidentally substitute an Ontario

product such as Denison’s Weissbier (Wheat

Beer) if I can’t get my hands on his first

choice for a weissbier to go with his New

England Clam Chowder, Vancouver Island

Brewery’s Beachcomber Summer Ale.

Each recipe is presented with some

background information on the dish, placed

in the context of the craft beer theme. Some

of the recipes are brilliantly simple, such

as using equal parts lager and water when

cooking basmati rice, and for the more

complex recipes Ort offers nicely detailed

instructions full of interesting tidbits about

beer and the other ingredients along the

way. This is a great crash course in bierology

for the neophyte while offering plenty for

aficionados as well.

Recipe from The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook © 2013 by David

Ort. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.

№ 45 | January/February 2014 57

Soba Salad with Sriracha Dressing

Recommended Beer: Schwarzbier or black lager

Dark 266, Cameron’s Brewing (Ontario)

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Sriracha Dressing

2 Tbsp (30 mL) sunflower oil

2 tsp (10 mL) toasted sesame oil

2 tsp (10 mL) Sriracha

4 cloves garlic, minced

¾-inch (2 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and


¾ cup (185 mL) black lager

1/3 cup (80 mL) soy sauce

¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup

3 Tbsp (45 mL) rice vinegar

1½ tsp (7.5 mL) cornstarch

juice of 2 limes

For the dressing, heat the oils in a medium

saucepan over medium heat until they start to

shimmer, about 3 minutes. Add

the Sriracha, garlic and grated

ginger and sauté until fragrant,

only about 1 minute. Pour in

the beer, soy sauce, maple

syrup and vinegar and whisk to

combine. Bring the dressing to

a simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare a

slurry from the cornstarch

and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of

cold water. When the sauce

is shimmering, pour in the

cornstarch slurry and whisk to

combine. Continue to gently

simmer for 5 to 7 minutes so

that the liquid reduces slightly

and the cornstarch thickens

the sauce. Take off the heat,

whisk in the lime juice and

refrigerate the dressing.

Soba Salad

1 lb (500 g) soba noodles

½ red onion, cut in thin,

short slices

1 carrot, peeled and grated

¼ head napa cabbage, cored

and thinly shredded

½ English cucumber,

quartered, seeded and


1 Tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds

¼ cup (60 mL) cashews

¼ cup (60 mL) cilantro leaves

1 avocado, pitted, sliced and

peel removed

For the salad, follow the instructions

on the package for cooking the soba

noodles. Set a large colander in your

sink for draining the cooked noodles.

Do not overcook the noodles. Taste a noodle 1

to 2 minutes shy of the prescribed time. As soon

as they don’t have any raw-noodle crunch in the

middle, remove the pot from the heat and dump

the noodles into the colander to drain. Run cold

water over the noodles and once they’re no longer

scalding hot, toss the noodles so that all of them

are exposed to the cold water. Drain thoroughly.

Combine the noodles and vegetables in a large

serving bowl. Garnish the salad with sesame seeds,

cashews and cilantro. Pour between half and twothirds

of the dressing over top and toss to coat.

Serve the salad with the sliced avocado on the

side and the remaining dressing as a dipping sauce.


With Pimentos & Piri Piri, Carla Azevedo

has revisited her cookbook from over

20 years ago, Uma Casa Portuguesa,

and completed an almost epic survey of

Portuguese comfort food. Azevedo was born

in Toronto to parents of Italian origin, but

her husband had a Portuguese background,

and she developed a serious passion for

Portuguese cooking. A trained chef and

journalist, she combined her education and

interests and produced a worthy first book

that was part of her own learning process

about the cuisine. Now a teacher, and with a

couple of decades of experience, Azevedo’s

new book substantially updates, revises and

expands her earlier cookbook. Pimentos &

Piri Piri (or “pepper pepper”) has the heft

of a box of Portuguese tiles, which serve as a

design motif throughout the book.

While sparsely illustrated, this cookbook

is chockablock full of helpful suggestions,

caveats, and enthusiasm for its subject,

with 330 well-detailed recipes included.

Divided into useful sections such as “Soups”

and “Poultry and Game,” the book reflects

Portugal’s traditional reliance on the sea

№ 45 | January/February 2014

for sustenance (particularly in the Azorean

region) with separate sections for “Fish”

and “Seafood.” No aspect of comfort food is

neglected, from “Breads” and “Desserts” to

“Sauces and Sweet Spreads.”

Azevedo includes a comprehensive

introduction to the “Essentials of Portuguese

Cuisine,” but this is a book geared to a North

American audience, embracing the reality

that the large migration of Portuguese

immigrants over the past 50 years or so, and

myriad global influences, have led to an

evolution in Portuguese cooking. Azevedo

often makes note of traditions that may be

best left in the past, opting for improved

methods and flavours that enhance a dish.

Hers is a creative approach, yet she also

appreciates and embraces the nuances in

regional Portuguese cooking, particularly

the dramatic differences between even

“traditional” dishes in the Azores and on

mainland Portugal. While we’ve chosen a

familiar Portuguese recipe here, Pimentos &

Piri Piri includes a wonderfully broad range

of Portuguese cooking.

Recipe from Pimentos & Piri Piri: Portuguese Comfort Cooking © 2013 by Carla Azevedo. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.

Custard in Puff Pastry Shells — Pastéis de Nata

When making the sugar and liquid reduction, to

prevent the crystallization of the sugar, do not use

a spoon to stir; instead, swirl the pan over the heat


Makes 12 Pastries

¾ cup (185 mL) granulated sugar

¼ cup (60 mL) water

1 cup (250 mL) cold whole milk

1 ¼ cup (310 mL) whipping cream

2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon zest

one 2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch

3 egg yolks

1 egg

1 lb(500 g) Puff Pastry (see next page)

Ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.

Boil over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or

until the sugar is reduced to about ¾ cup (185 mL)

of syrup. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat ¾

cup (185 mL) of the milk, and the whipping cream,

lemon zest, and cinnamon stick until hot. Set aside

to cool briefly.

In a deep skillet, combine the cornstarch and

remaining ¼ cup (60 mL) cold milk. Gradually

add the hot milk and cream. Bring to a boil over

medium heat, whisking until the mixture comes to

a boil. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until

thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside for

10 minutes to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the

egg yolks and egg until well blended. Gradually

add the prepared sugar water, followed by the

milk and cream mixture, and beat for about 1

minute or until well blended. (Be careful not

to form too many air bubbles in the batter or it

will not bake well.) Cover with plastic wrap and

refrigerate until cold. Strain through a fine-mesh

sieve just before using.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one-half

of the puff pastry into a 12-inch (30 cm) square

about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Cut out six 4-inch (10

cm) circles. Press each circle into a muffin tin (wet

fingers will make this easier) and prick all over with

a fork. (If the pastry gets too soft, refrigerate for

30 minutes before continuing.) Repeat with the

remaining puff pastry and refrigerate until muffin

pastry shells are cold. Fill the shells three-quarters

full with the custard filling.

Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Bake

the tarts in a preheated 450 F (230 C) oven for 25 to 30

minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the

filling is bubbly with a few flecks of golden brown. (If

the tarts are browning too

quickly, cover them loosely

with foil.)


sprinkle the

tarts with a

few drops of

cold water and

then sprinkle

with cinnamon

(the water helps

the cinnamon

stick). Let stand

for 5 minutes. Run

a knife around the

edge of the muffin tins

and carefully remove the

tarts (clean the knife in

cold water and dry it off

after each tart has been

removed). Let the tarts

cool on a wire rack for at

least 1 hour (this allows for

the bottoms to cool and

the custard to set).

Although these tarts

are best eaten the same

day you make them,

you can reheat day-old

custard tarts (storebought

and homemade)

in a 350 F (175 C) oven for

a few minutes. Sprinkle

cinnamon and icing sugar

and eat immediately.

Puff Pastry — Massa Folhada

Flaky, buttery puff pastry is the base for countless

Portuguese sweets, savoury pies, and tartlets.

Puff pastry is not difficult to make, but it is timeconsuming.

Frozen pastry is an acceptable shortcut.

Makes 1½ lb (750 g) dough

3½ cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour

pinch fine salt

1¼ cups (310 mL) cold water

11/3 cups (330 mL) butter

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make

a well in the centre. Pour in the water and stir

briskly with a wooden spoon until the dough holds

together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured

board. Using your hands, knead until the dough is

smooth. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out into a 16 x 10-inch (40 x 25 cm) rectangle

about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Set aside.

Place the butter on a floured board. Using a

floured rolling pin, pound the butter until 1 inch (2.5

cm) thick. Fold the butter in half. Continue pounding

and folding, sprinkling the board with enough flour

to keep the butter from sticking, until the butter is

soft and pliable but not melting (if it gets too soft,

refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes). Carefully roll or

pound the butter into approximately a 12- x 6-inch

(30 x 15 cm) rectangle. Set aside.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board with the

short end toward you. Place the butter in the centre

of the dough, leaving about a 2- inch (5 cm) border on

all sides. Gently fold one-third of the dough rectangle

over the centre; then repeat and fold the other side

one-third over the centre. Using a rolling pin, press

the short ends together to seal. Roll out the dough

lengthwise into a 24- x 12- inch (60 x 30 cm) rectangle

(you will be able to see flecks of butter when the

dough stretches out). Fold the dough into thirds;

press the short ends together to seal, and rotate the

dough. (If the butter begins to melt and the dough

becomes difficult to work with, refrigerate for 20 to 30

minutes in between rolling out the dough.) Wrap the

dough in waxed paper, place on a baking sheet, and

refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times,

refrigerating for 30 minutes each time. The dough

can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up

to 3 months.


Setting a Fine Table is both history book and

cookbook, making “Historical Desserts and

Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort

York” accessible to modern day cooks. The

War of 1812-era Fort York is a national historic

site near the lake in downtown Toronto, and

operates as a living museum by the City of

Toronto. A variety of educational programs

run year-round, and the culinary history

of the fort comes alive through the work of

Bridget Wranich and the Historic Foodways

Programme, with invaluable assistance from

the Volunteer Historic Cooks, which includes

renowned food writer Elizabeth Baird as a

member. Baird and Wranich have edited

№ 45 | January/February 2014

some of the volunteers’ years of challenging

work of understanding the typically

cursory recipes from 200 years ago. Archaic

ingredients, techniques and implements

have been decoded, and the recipes refined

to reflect historic accuracy in taste and

texture, then written out using today’s

language and tools. Since visitors to the Fort

York kitchens most frequently request the

sweet recipes, Setting a Fine Table follows

that direction, helping the reader connect

with Canada’s past through recipes.

chris McDonell is Publisher of eatdrink.

Recipe from Setting a Fine Table: Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York © 2013

by City of Toronto; editors Elizabeth Baird and Bridget Wranich. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.


Today, mackeroons (now spelled macaroons)

are a meringue made with coconut, but

until the mid-19th century they

contained finely chopped or

pounded sweet almonds.

Makes about 80 mackeroons.

3 cups (750 mL) whole blanched


4 medium egg whites (½ cup/125


2 tsp (10 mL) orange flower water

2 cups (500 mL) superfine

granulated sugar

Line 2 rimless baking sheets with

parchment paper.

In a food processor, chop the

almonds, scraping down the sides

of the bowl from time to time, until

they are the consistency of very

coarse sand with some slightly

larger pieces. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat the

egg whites with the orange flower

water until soft peaks form. Add

the sugar about 2 Tbsp (30 mL) at a

time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Sprinkle the chopped almonds over

the egg white mixture and fold in to

distribute evenly.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (6

mL) about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart onto

the prepared baking sheets. Bake

in the centre of a 325 F (160 C) oven

until they are dry to touch, but still

white, and lift easily off the parchment

paper, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Let cool on the pans on a rack.

(Make-ahead: Layer in airtight containers.

Store at room temperature for

a few days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

№ 45 | January/February 2014 61

June 20–22


Enjoy the true tastes of summer!

Western Fair District is excited to launch the second year

of its annual Beer and BBQ Show for a NEW Three-day Run!

Craft Brews

Cicerones & Brewmasters

Grill Master BBQ Cook-Off

Backyard Games & Music

Wines, Spirits, Mock-tails & Munchies





№ 45 | January/February 2014

the lighter side

Soo Good

By natalie novak

My husband and I met almost 40

years ago, and this past year, as

we planned a road trip to the city

where we met, I thought back to

our courting days. We lived in Sault Ste. Marie

and in those early years, with steady pay

cheques but no children or mortgage, money

flowed like wine and evenings out for dinner

and drinks were more habit than indulgence.

Eventually we moved to London, and while

our kids were growing up, travelling north to

vacation at the family cottage was a summer

ritual. But that cottage was 45 minutes away

from the Soo and so we rarely ventured into

town — and certainly not for a romantic

dinner for two!

Now the kids are grown and the

cottage is sold, and for the first

time in years it would be just the

two of us making the trek north.

It was quite an exciting prospect,

and visions of visiting our favourite haunts

danced in my head!

For those not familiar with the culture

of Sault Ste. Marie back in the 1970s, think

amazing, genuine Italian cuisine. My memory

is filled with restaurants with names like

Aurora’s, Cesira’s, Sorrenti’s, Minelli’s — names

that rolled off your tongue as deliciously as

their homemade pastas, soups, sauces and

salad dressings. Chefs had emigrated here

from various regions of Italy, and the scent

of roasting chicken, veal, lasagna and other

tempting aromas wafted from their kitchens.

But it wasn’t just the fine dining establishments

that I appreciated. There was the walkin-and-buy-a-slice

pizza guy across from the

main bus station downtown. While you were

waiting for your bus home at end of the night

you could wander over and watch him spin the

dough over his head. The bigger the audience,

the higher he would throw it. Then he’d dress

the freshly tossed crust with sauce and toppings

with such flair, it seemed more an artistic

endeavour than simply creating a fast snack for

the late night crowd. And there was Peachy’s

with its long plank tables covered with plastic

red-and-white-checkered table cloths. You

could buy a jug of beer and a pizza for about

ten bucks — and oh, those toppings! Nero’s

Notion, piled with mushrooms, pepperoni and

home-made Italian sausage was my boyfriend/

future husband’s personal favourite. About

the only other ethnic food you could find back

then was at the Chinese restaurant — another

popular end-of-evening-snack option — or the

authentic Mexican restaurant across the river

in Soo Michigan.

So imagine my surprise when we visited

Sault Ste. Marie and discovered how much

the restaurant scene has changed. There is

a locally owned Japanese restaurant, and

you can also grab some sushi, Thai or

Indonesian cuisine. There are trendy

cafés, roadhouse-style eateries, cakeries

and even a poutinery now.

We stumbled across a few newto-us

gems, including Ernie’s and

Mike’s — two 50s-style diners that

serve up all day breakfasts, which we love!

Both apparently opened long before we were

even born, but we had never even been aware

that they existed. Very cool discoveries!

Sadly, we also learned that some of our

frequent dining destinations were no longer

around. The store front where the pizza man

performed is now a nail salon, and Peachy’s

is just a deserted building. Restaurants have

closed, but a whole new generation of Italian

chefs has emerged at Arturos, Ubriaco’s,

Solo Trattoria, Vincenzo’s, Quatro and other


Nostalgia being what it is, in the end we

were drawn back to one of our favourite places,

Giovanni’s. It was a relative newcomer back in

our dating days and has managed to stand the

test of time. More comfortable than romantic,

the atmosphere was just as wonderful as

we remembered. A leisurely dinner in good

company, reminiscing over fall-off-your-fork

ribs and a glass of fine wine — blissful! Who

says you can’t go home again?

NATALIE NOVAK is a freelance writer and transplanted

Northerner who now calls London home.


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