Archive for January, 2010
This was the view as we descended into Calgary’s airport for my final week with Fiddler on the Roof. Looks promising doesn’t it? Just an ominous opening to a pretty dismal final week. I’ve spent the last week in Portugal, shaking off the tour blues with my hunny. I’m looking out our bedroom window onto Rossio, catching up on emails and Skyping family back home, and I thought it might be nice to officially cap off the tour with a final entry. My next entries will divulge all of the yummy adventures we are having here in Lisbon. And at 60 degrees F, there’s not a flake of snow to be found!
When I think of Toronto, I’ll first think of St. Lawrence Market. Voted one of the World’s top 25 markets by Food & Wine, I would argue that it’s at least in the top third of those chosen few. Not even La Boqueria in Barcelona or the Chelsea Market in New York could make me as giddy as I was the first time I walked its stalls. Favorites included White House Meats, with an impressive assortment of game meats, and the most incredible pre-marinated butterflied chickens, and St. Lawrence Pizza & Ice Cream, whose house-made fettuccine and agnolotti filled my belly for my five week stay.
I really slacked on dining out in Toronto. With the St. Lawerence Market nearby, and a well-appointed kitchen, I found myself roasting chickens, shaving brussels, and browning butter to toss with orecchette most nights. I did, however, treat myself to one very lavish dinner while David was in town. Food and Wine made several suggestions, but 6 degree weather led me to the closest fine dining suggestion, Vertical. Located on mezzanine level of Canada’s tallest building, First Canadian Place on King Street, the surroundings made me feel that I should have a corporate card on me. However, we arrived late on a Monday and there were only two other dinners on a date, so it felt a bit like our own private dining room.
Our indecision is a reflection of how varied the menu is, and instead of making up our minds, we just ordered an insane amount of food. We started with Grilled Zucchini, cut into scallop-like discs, topped with speck, golden raisins, and mint. The seasoning was deeply eastern, and really surprising, with the mint making a definitive mark on the plate. It’s a not a dish I would think to make, though I’m glad they did! Our other starter didn’t move mountains but was flawless and simple, and because of that, my favorite of the night. Grilled Boneless Sardines with Grilled Crostini, pungent Morrocan Olive Tapenade, and Lemon. The skin was perfectly crisp, and the dish had just the right amount of acid. Sardines are a staple of Portuguese cuisine, and this dish made me so excited about our upcoming trip to Lisbon… I want to sip Vinho Verde in the Alfama over grilled sardines, but for now a New Zealand Sav Blanc will do.
Our pasta course arrives and they have made a mistake. The Papardelle has been confused with the Tagliatelle. I return mine, eager to try their twelve hour braised wild boar ragu, but David is content with his, and picks out pieces of Lobster and Scallop from his lightly dressed mound of house-made pasta. The correction is made, though I would think the boar would be more tender after 12 hours. Still, it’s a dish that warms me to the bone, as we gaze on the snow-dusted streets outside.
We finished with an Orata, presented whole at the table, then taken away and de-boned. Served atop a mixture of cauliflower, stewed tomatoes, olives, and caper berries, the fish wasn’t grilled, but braised, making it’s firm flesh so tender and moist. I missed the crispness that would have come from grilling but David was happy with the milky skin, which still had it’s thin under layer of fat. By now, I was bursting at the seams and had given up on my portion, when the waitress brought out some olive bread to sop up the incredibly flavorful tomato-based broth. I could have had had that broth for soup as a starter and been content. David was eying desserts, and we ordered something I can no longer remember, which is telling. He rolled me into a cab, and I stayed uncomfortably full for hours! Haha!
Vertical is certainly not a cheap destination, and the location might make some feel that they’ve just just exited their office and taken the elevator a few floors down, but the food stands on it’s own. It’s simple, straight-forward cuisine that’s not nearly as stuffy as it’s surroundings that makes Vertical worth a visit.
Vertical Restaurant and Bar. 100 King Street West. Toronto, ON M5X 1K7, Canada. ph (416) 214-2252
I’m excited to share that I’ll be making my Broadway debut in the London transfer of La Cage Aux Folles (set in the French Riviera and based on the play and movie of the same name). Previews begin April 6th towards an official opening on April 16th at the Longacre Theatre. I’ve known of my offer since November 11th, but was hesitant to share the news until a contract was signed, sealed, delivered. This Sunday in Calgary marks my final performance with the Fiddler on the Roof tour. I’ll be vacationing in Lisbon and Madrid for the two weeks that follow, and rehearsals will begin shortly thereafter in New York. Still so many updates to share from our stay in Toronto, and lots of exciting eats write about once David and I are in Europe… 2010 is looking up!
Brian Morin brings his brew-centric cuisine to Beer Bistro, a chic, airy space on the edge of Old Town Toronto. The food is fine, but the beer list, which takes up nearly 40 pages of the menu, is the real draw. You can get a sampling of three draught beers for only $6CAD. My favorite was the Mill Street Coffee Porter, a local Ontario beer with a punch of espresso flavor. Sling a few back while dipping cubes of sourdough into their decadent Cheese and Lager Fondue with aged cheddar, emmental and hacker-pscoff edelhell.
Beer Bistro. 18 King Street East. Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, Canada. ph (416) 861-9872
HAPPY 2010!! It’s 13 degrees in Toronto, and it feels like 5! But I’ve got my love to keep me warm… David’s in town and we’ve been luxuriating in the apartment, watching some of the movies Harvey’s received for awards consideration, and cooking. For Fiddler’s New Years Day party at some cast mates’ rented house in Cabbagetown, David and I brought one of our holiday staples: Martha Stewart’s Camembert Asparagus Bread Pudding. Decadent but not too rich, comforting but not heavy… just right. Now if only we could figure out how to prepare it without filling our sink to the brim with dirty dishes!