Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 47 - Catching Up

Toronto: Home of Some Seriously Tasty Food

Honey Bear and I are safe and sound after a fantastic 8 day getaway to Ontario to visit with friends and family who haven't seen Honey Bear in almost a year. It was also a break from the 100 Mile Challenge, which was both welcome and feared as it feels like I'm starting all over today and catch myself searching through drawers and pantries for sneaky, hidden, non-local food but not finding any. Amazing how easily I backslide!

Still, being on reprieve from the challenge allowed me to partake in one of my favourite activities: Ethno-Grazing. This was my Dad's idea when I was younger - we'd travel to Toronto and gorge ourselves on all manners of ethnic food and what we couldn't eat, we'd take home with us to enjoy throughout the week. It's a passion of mine as I love food and love the exotic flavours and spices that can easily be used to dress up your own hum-drum meals.

Ethno-Grazing and being mindful of the challenge was an interesting experience and brought some new epiphanies about the role of imported food in my life and my ability to make a local diet sustainable for myself and my family. More on this to come, but first, my eating tour of Toronto!

Our first stop was Ethiopian House on Irwin, in the Yonge and Wellesley area. It's a cozy restaurant where the aromas of frankincense and roasting coffee add warmth and invite you to savour your meal and linger a little longer as you catch up with old friends and that's precisely what I did.

Nectar of the Gods

Our Delicious Vege-Beef Combo on Injera

Teff Flour Injera - the Perfect Picker-Upper

Coffee Ceremony

Perfect Coffee with Clove and Cinnamon Overtones

Lindsay and Alyson 

As mentioned, my good friend Alyson from Dates and Quinces has a fabulous review of our experience at the restaurant with some beautiful photography.

From there, we headed to Bloor at the Ukrainian and Polish section of town, where we enjoyed some smoked sausage, halupki (cabbage rolls), pierogi, pastries, poppy seed rolls, marzipan figurines and more. This was my absolute favourite:

Sweet Lemon Country Cheese Pastry
Country cheese or pressed cottage cheese is a mild, crumbly cheese that I remember fondly from living in Ukraine for 6 months. I can't find it around here, so I was excited to bring some home from an Ontario dairy. It's used in both sweet and savoury ways and a pastry is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the cheese.

After loading up, we headed to Spadina for my absolute favourite part of Ethno-Grazing - Vietnamese and Chinese. By some act of divine interference, we managed to find the elusive dumpling restaurant that Andrea Turnbull of Putting Up with the Turnbulls recommended. We were attempting to find a parking spot when suddenly a spot opened up, right in from of the Dumpling House on Spadina. Andrea's particular suggestion was Pork and Fennel dumplings and she wasn't wrong. Fresh dill, tender pork the gentle flavour of fennel, it was beyond delicious. I couldn't stop there and had to go with the Shrimp and Pork and Shrimp and Vegetable fried dumplings and you can't go wrong. Seriously, the most delicious dumplings I've ever had and I'm glad I didn't wait until we got home to sample the goodness.

Dumplings Made to Order
Couldn't Resist a Taste

The other exciting find was my beloved pork buns. What's not to love about these? The sweet dough, the bbq'd pork and sliced onions, the portability of a

Pork buns, custard buns, sweet cakes and more. Love this shop! Next stop was a meat shop and the purchase of roasted and barbecued pork (with that little dish of hoisin sauce, what's not to love?!). Finally, a stop at a little restaurant with some delicious spare ribs and shrimp fried rice, the way fried rice is supposed to be with chunks of vegetables and light on the soy sauce. When all was said and done, we managed to come home with scads of food that looked a little like this:

Dumplings, Sausages, Cabbage Rolls, Buns, Tea and More
Sausage, Pork, Rice Wraps, Sweets, Cookies and Pastries

All of this made the best leftovers and we didn't need to cook for days. In all of our grazing, I did manage to come home with some exciting local items:

Niagara Wine, Cheese, Vinegar, Beans

There you have it, the evidence of Entho-Graze 2011. I highly recommend taking a tour of Toronto's finest eateries and exploring new ethnic delights. Enjoy!


  1. I am practically drooling over your descriptions and photographs! I love ethnic food.

  2. It appears you did well...lots of food, friends and family. YEAH!! I'm so glad you liked the Dumpling House.


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