Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dolce & Gabbana Vitello Canvas Tote

A little fashion & food mix today.
Hmmm this bag is one entitled vitello 'veal' canvas tote. That does not sound appealing since the only time I ever hear the word vitello is in the Italian butcher shop and grocery store. It will be funny for posh ladies world wide to be hanging on to this overpriced bag and saying the word 'vitello' like it was luxurious.

Vitello it is a term for veal/calf/baby calves meat and prob in this case calf leather but it is apparently made with canvas? Well I have to thank Dolce & Gabbana for this entertainment and also for the awareness they brought to my family name as before they came onto the world scene no one - except for Italians could say our surname. Thx Domenico and Stefano. Awwh such nice Sicilian boys. Check out their website - I think it is fab! Love their overtly sexual advertisements esp the World Cup ones from last year.

Good luck with FW08 - love the Dolce family

Monday, February 26, 2007

Horse and Prego
Not sure why, but I like this pic taken in front of the cafe set up at the Interior Design Show this past weekend. Look at that prego-gigante?! She was searching for lemonade the whole time as she saw someone drinking one but we never did find that booth. We ended up with a mango berry icy drink from Faema the Italian espresso machine makers instead which was yummy... but one of the hostesses or whatever you call the people who work at the booth showing the machines was such a cow, I guess she was not happy to be there and it showed - but don't take it out on visitors to your booth simple girl. Bad marketing I say!

The food on offer at the cafe wasn't the greatest but the atmosphere was mellow yellow, it was sponsored by the Yellow Pages so that could be why the jaune theme was so powerful. Well for my b-day if you can get me the horse in the background I would love to have it in my place. I always wanted a pony as a little girl but I never got one, only Bunny got a pony, but that is probably because she lived on a farm in New Zealand. Lucky gal! Don't the French eat horse meat? That could be another post...


Saturday, February 24, 2007


Water, aqua, acqua, vand, Wasser, voda, eau, paani, djour, mul, maille or whichever language you want to say it in is very important to us wherever we live. We need it to live and our bodies are made up of 70% of it and 71% of the earth is covered by it.

It comes in different forms and affects each part of our life, we deal with it in different forms, some are now enjoying snow, hail, rain, fog and ice while others are enjoying it on their sun holidays in the form of lakes, rivers and oceans. We need it to water our gardens for food, to wash our bodies, to cool us down and to wake us up. Essentially water is everywhere and connects us all globally. See Paolo in the pic skiing in Dubai at an indoor ski dome.

We need it for cooking or preparing almost all of our foods -how would we survive without water for boiling our pasta?! Well this post is a shameless plug for a project I am working on and it is called Shoot Experience, the idea of a friend Brett from South Africa/London who is running a global photography project called the 'Connective Collective' with the theme of... you guessed it, water!

The events will take place in cities around the world, including Toronto & London, my two fave cities and participants will spend a day on a photographic scavenger hunt looking for clues which are related to the theme of water. Kind of like the Amazing Race tv show if you want to attend all of them?! I can ask Brett for a discount if you do...Check it out and sign up. If you want more information just drop me a line and I can give you more details on your preferred city.

And remember water is not food, it is a chemical substance that is essential to all known forms of life. Don't waste it. Wiki has an excellent page on it if you want to read more.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Link
See the links section on the right...check it, a Toronto-specific food blog site called TasteTO who do some interesting stuff. They talk about food and dining in Toronto - from restaurant reviews to features on shops, new products, farmer's markets and more. Am meeting Sheryl next week for a coffee at the Gladstone and may have more to report then.

Also check out the Gladstone's life drawing class on Wednesday's. Grab a glass of wine and sketch your heart out for 2 hrs. I had a great time on Wed and will definitely go back. The human body is an interesting but difficult thing to sketch, the hardest is the hands and face, which each time I made look like lobster claws and just an oval shape. Am sure it will get better with practice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mrs. D says 'Cooking for someone is a symbol of love.' I think we could all agree on that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Esplanade Lasagna

Not sure if I am not used to Canadian prices but the Dominion on the Esplanade seems to be outrageously expensive and the queue to pay for your groceries insanely long. AK says this is b.c. everyone wants to do their grocery shopping Sunday night but I think it is probably just bad service. Tip 1: Go to the bakery cashier tucked in the back to escape the pain. Tip 2: Dominion, get on it - pick up your heels!

As you see AK made a vegetable lasagna with the no-bake lasagna sheets, I like the idea of them but I recall my mom making lasagna and it being such a lengthy process which needed skill. She would boil the sheets making sure not to over cook them and make them perfect for the layering process, then she would wipe off excess water with a graceful motion with her hands, lay them to dry a little and then layer them being careful not to rip them etc. etc. Now all you do is plop them in the pan, ladle your ready made sauce on top, add cheese and bake. Pretty easy and requires less pots and washing up :)

Well it was a nice evening filled with lots of 1990s dance moves and as you can see AK almost lost his lasagna when trying to display it for the camera prob b.c. it came in with a dance move! Note to self: deny him any job as a food stylist if he offers as this is what his meal ended up looking like. But it was yummy! Thx!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mrs.Diab can cook!
Momma Dolce is an excellent cook but she doesn’t venture into the Middle Eastern world of food so don’t cut me out of the will when you read this praise Mrs. Dolce, as you are still tops. But boy can Mrs. Diab cook!

She is at the top of the list and hopefully one day she will open a restaurant so that others can share in the joy or if she ever sits down with me to write out her recipes then there will be a Lebanese food cookbook soon! She is a passionate cook that devotes lots of time to it and her presentation is also superb. She is the Lebanese Martha but with so much more vivacity. Always a fun night at the Diab’s esp with the entertainment provided by Mr.D; he made several funny faces for the camera.

The night’s menu consisted of vine leaves perfectly wrapped and stuffed with rice and meat, a gorgeous roast of lamb with potatoes, roasted chicken with stuffing, a chickpea and eggplant dish, tossed salad made with a lemon dressing and hearts of palm and warm pita with yoghurt, mint and garlic dip – all made at Casa Diab. Not only is she passionate about food she invests lots of time and energy into perfecting the dishes and her presentation is superb.

Mr. D is off to Lebanon to set up the Middle Eastern version of the Bachelorette –good luck! Am sure he will lose about 10lbs when he has to fend for himself on the eating front. Thx to the Diabs for a fab meal. Stay tuned for a recipe book of the recipes handed down to Mrs. D from her family in Lebanon.

If you are looking for a grocery store which caters to your Middle Eastern food needs, Nasr (Lawrence & Warden) is a great place to check out.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

1880s Menu

Senior Cooking Class. Belleville School for the Deaf, 1933

Back from a busy weekend not too many interesting foodie type things except for seeing this exhibition at the Deaf Culture Centre at the Distillery District and Alex's lasagna/Scrabble extravaganza on Sun night (and no rinsy is not a word!)That post will come later.

The first line of the menu says 'For Protestant Deaf-Mutes and the Blind' now this was a menu from a deaf school from the 1880s in Canada. Some of the other pics at the exhibition also said; deaf, dumb and blind. Not terminology we really use anymore, right? The exhibition is a must see with guided tour. Upon entering it looks like a mix of items that do not connect but once you get free tour (about 10min) you are opened up to a whole different world. Laura was our gracious host and explained the art pieces, images and gave us insight into the history of deaf people in Canada. Thx Laura, it is was a nice surprise! The pics below are of the cooking school and the dining hall where the children would eat. And if you look at the menu it wasn't anything spectacular, I guess Jamie Olvier's grandad wasn't around to campaign for them back then.

Saskatchewan School for the Deaf, school dining room, 1945

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cupcake Cake

Birthdays are supposed to be filled with fun for kids, but you know how adults love to do stuff that kids do and secretly love it. I recall a Ms. Norris's b-day last year where she rented a bouncy castle and surprisingly no children were invited to the party. It was a bit dangerous as there was a lot of alcohol mixed in with grown adults flying around the castle but, nonetheless - tonnes of fun!

So at a recent b-day party the extremely expensive Disney birthday cake with super-hero figurine on top (which usally just consists of whip cream) was replaced with a cupcake decorating extravaganza.

I'm telling you get into the kids' b-day party business, no longer are the days of pin the tail on the donkey and Twister, now kids have bouncy castles, parties at play places, theme parks and even have scientists, magicians and other entertainers come to thier homes for a hefty fee.

Anyhow, the cupcake decorating alternative was a hit, all the kids made their own creations, everyone ate their cupcakes, some took them home, it killed about an hour and only cost about $20 for the cake mix package and decorating sprinkles. Adults and kids loved it (SS was deep in decorating mode when I took this pic) and there are left over sprinkles and candies for another decorating spree, just need to buy the Betty Crocker cake mix for a few dollars.

Try it and spend the rest of your b-day budget on hiring out that theme park next year.

Happy B-day again little V! Loved all the cupcakes that I smuggled home in my handbag!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This came in my email box this week from The Last Tuesday Society, a very interesting club that always amuses.

The Last Tuesday Society

respectfully requests your
attendence at an evening
of misery, melancholy,
sadness, absence
and loss at
Loss; an Evening of Exquisite Misery
a Valentines Day Ball
Wednesday February 14th 2006
from 10pm - 3am
in the 17th Century Vaults of
Hedges & Butler
New Burlington Mews
London, UK

DRESS CODE - Decaying Beauty

Onion Chopping at Midnight Accompanied by
Ava-Rebekah Rahman- Violinist
In the Cinema The Saddest Films Play All Night

I guess this Valentines party is not for those happy about the day ;)
Onion chopping at midnight, I love that! At least Hendrick's Gin is sponsoring it. Always good to get nice and drunk when attending a party like this.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Brunch anyone?
Breakfast here was divine. Two poached eggs over crusty bread with asparagus, a potato rosti triangle, shaved Parmesan and fresh truffle olive oil drizzled on top of it all; served with a steaming latte = one happy person who has woken up early on a Saturday morning! Thx to MP for treating and taking me to this little gem on Queen St.E which seems to be less frequented since more ppl are glued to the Queen West side of the city.

Andrea is the chef/part owner and he is the one in the pic making these fine breakfast combinations. Bollito is another: soft boiled eggs, oystercrimini relish, polenta/potato rosti and truffle olive oil -mmmmm! All the brunch items names' are unique and the service is superb.

Now, what is becoming a habit is I go to a place, order and then wait in anticipation for the meal; once it arrives I dig in voraciously and when there are small remnants left on the plate I think, 'oh shit i forgot to take a pic!' Trust me, this happens all the time. So I have this blurry one of Andrea in the kitchen. For the real thing get down to B Espresso Bar (111 Queen Street East) in the mornings and have some of his food - he makes it with passion which I think always makes a difference!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Does anyone like candied fruit?

I hate it in dessert but apparently when you go to Italy the candied fruit is actually quite delicious as it is real fruit -so what is the one that we eat made of? BP told me that you love things with candied fruit there as it tastes amazing. Anyone going to Italy soon, let me know or buy a bag for taste testing.

How to make candied fruit:

STEP 1: Prepare fruit by cutting into small pieces; chop cherries in half; remove white pith from lemon, orange or grapefruit peel and cut into strips or small pieces.

STEP 2: Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup honey and 1-1/2 cups water in heavy saucepan.

STEP 3: Boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 235 degrees F on candy thermometer.

STEP 4: Drop small amount of fruit into liquid.
STEP 5: Cook on low heat 20-30 minutes until the fruit or rind is transparent.
STEP 6: Drain and repeat with rest of fruit.
STEP 7: Cool fruit and store in airtight container

Voila, ready to use it in the middle of your cakes or tartufo. Now you have to find a candy thermometer.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Scream
It is too cold outside to have ice cream, well that is my logic in the winter but you can always make exceptions to your own odd rules right?

Tartufo which means 'truffle' in Italian, is one of those exceptions to the rule. This ice cream dessert comes in a ball usually covered in cocoa powder, chocolate shaving or ground nuts.

The insides are usually two types of gelato - this one is chocolate and raspberry served at Terroni's on Queen W. Traditionally it was vanilla and then a whole cherry on the inside but now there are several choices...just like the candy apple variations. See Dorgel's page for some of the other yummy flavours you can buy. When served it is cut into four sections and placed into a little bowl -one is missing in the pic due to hungry wolves who attacked. You can try making them at home in little moulds but it is probably easier to buy them and pass them as your own creations.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Beigel Bagel

Fresh bagels can't be beat. These are from Gryfe's Bagel Bakery which are legendary. They have been around for 45 years and are an institution in TO. At their small premises on Bathurst Street they churn out approx. 10,000 bagels a day. Their bagels are perfect - crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside. They have several different types -poppy seed, double poppy seed (my favourite!) whole wheat, sesame, cinnamon raisin and more...

The advertising agency I worked at used to bring these in for all employees on a Monday morning and by 10am box loads of these would be devoured. Staff used to hide extra ones at their desk to eat at lunch. And when we were young, we had lovely neighbours Mike & Mary who would leave a fresh, hot bag outside our door each Saturday morning (soo nice).

At Gryfe's, there is usually a queue on the weekends to get these fresh hot little rounds of goodness. People who think supermarket bought doughy bagels are great should make the trip to Gryfes to taste a really great bagel and see what they have been missing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Laurentian Burlesque
I went to meet two of my favourite French Canadian copains on Sat night at the Laurentian Room (Winchester & Parliament) I sat at the gorgeous long bar in the beautifully designed art-deco room. It felt like I was in another era with the vibe and decor. Their website tells us that, 'back in the days of Al Capone, the Laurentian Room was a ladies-and-escorts-only lounge.' As I got there a little early I ordered a mojito-daquiri which was interesting but a little too sweet for my liking and then noticed these little cards placed along the bar. Unless you have super human eye sight and can read it this is what it said:

Warning: Diners Discretion Advised
We would like to warn our valued patrons of the sexually explicit "Tiger Lily's Erotic Review" performed on Saturdays after 11:00. (Maybe this is why I saw a few people bolt out at 11pm?!) The content of this performance art may offend those with delicate sensibilities;
Diners Discretion Advised.
The Management

I love it - does delicate sensibilities mean losers who have not seen a little bit of nudity? Are we not over exposed to it in television, music videos or in magazines?

Well the Tiger Lily show was great, it was more Cirque du Soleil with little g-strings than anything totally erotic -it is a burlesque show which is becoming super popular again. There were two performers who came out in costumes, stripped down to their knickers and g-strings and danced along the bar...they were quite entertaining and had fantastic physiques so it was interesting to see them twist and twirl along the bar. There was also a singer on a little raised dining platform who had such a powerful voice. After a few beautiful songs - she too untied her halter dress to reveal her breasts with little nipple tassels.

All in all nothing too shocking for this day and age but I guess grandma would've had quite a shock when she saw the male dancer strutting it and removing several g-s to reveal yet another -thankfully not the real deal.

Get to the Laurentian it is a great night out, fab cocktails, the dinner menu looks great and the vibe is v.different from anything else you will experience in the Cabbagetown area. A hidden treasure.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2007 versions of the candy apple

Remember when they were just red colored and dipped in sugar? Now there are so many varieties that it is strange...they look delicious but I still prefer the simple red ones that were sold at amusement parks when we were young. My favourite theme park of all time was Crystal Beach Park, it has since closed but it was a real treat.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Recipe Therapy (pic: me, BP, GP & my sis)

While at Maria & cousin Basilio Petrolo's home tonight I was collecting recipes but at the same time reminiscing about family, food and more which was very therapeutic.
To add to the therapy theme Maria's sister came over and gave her an acupuncture treatment for her sprained ankle.

It was a great evening filled with food, family and renditions of the Little Mermaid theme song sung in two versions, one loud and clear from their eldest daughter and and one cute, mumbly one by their three year old-both extremely adorable!

After lots of discussion about food, cooking and more I was reminded of how people can talk about food for ages. I was in Sardinia last year and remember two middle aged couples beside us on their blanket talking for more than an hour on how they cook their melanzane (eggplant/aubergines). They went in depth as to how their husbands like it, their kids like it, how their parents made it, how their neighbours make it, when they fry it, salt it, peel it, where they buy it, how they order it in a restaurant... and on and on. I thought it was funny but then realised this is probably what we did tonight from 6-11pm about Sicilian dessert!?

Thx for dinner BP - unfortunately your spicy sausage sauce will not go into the cookbook but it was delicious. If you send it and I can post it for the readers, only if you allow us to tell your secret ingredient.