It’s A Wrap: Vegetarian Dolmadakia

 

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Almost everyone the world over loves wrapping food in food. A sandwich is basically a wrap, the filling snuggled between a soft bread exterior. We stuff our donairs and falafel  into pita, we wrap fresh veggies in rice paper and mung bean wrappers, we wrap food in tortillas made of corn and flour, and resourceful cooks everywhere have made an entire branch of regional cuisine out of wrapping foods in locally available vegetable leaves; lettuce wraps, cabbage rolls, tamales wrapped in corn husks, Chinese sticky rice in lotus leaves, stuffed collard greensSwiss chard ….the list goes on and on. And one of our favourite wraps, hailing from the middle east, the Balkans and Greece, is dolmadakia, stuffed grape leaves. Continue »



Canadian Favourites: Habitant Pea Soup

 

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Canada is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, and we thought we’d have a look throughout the year at a few products that we’ve either grown up with or are identifiable as Canadian. There are lots of items out there that have stood the test of time and have been gracing our tables for generations. Maybe the company that originally made them has been purchased by an international conglomerate, but we still call them our own. Sort of like our favourite movie stars.

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An Evening of Sustainable Dim Sum

 

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I love dim sum. Whenever friends suggest going out for Saturday or Sunday brunch, I nudge the conversation in the direction of the nearest dim sum joint.  The beauty of dim sum is the immediate service; no matter how busy it is, as soon as you sit down you are served tea, and in a matter of moments, polite and cheerful (but no-nonsense) ladies are rolling carts to your table containing all manner of delectable edibles, often preceded by or trailing enticing aromatic wafts of steam. There is no interminable wait for harried servers- murder in their eyes- your order never gets lost or forgotten, no rubbery bacon or burnt toast or cold, runny eggs. What you see is what you get.

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Trashed & Wasted; A Charity Event

 

Waste not want not, innit?

Waste not want not, innit?

 

Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.”-FAO.org 

Food waste is a big problem in much of the western world. Supermarkets, consumers, restaurants and other food producers, providers and merchants throughout the world waste as much as a third of the food produced. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes. In North America and Europe, this works out to each man, woman and child wasting between 95 and 115 kilograms of food each year. Also according to the FAO, “…in medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behaviour of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries.”

 

Too ugly to eat?

Too ugly to eat?

 

One of our behaviour patterns is our penchant for tossing out any produce that does not look like it would win a red ribbon at the county fair. So-called “Ugly Fruit and Vegetables” don’t have a chance as they are often dismissed and tossed early on in the chain from the farm to supermarket shelf, or, if they do make it, lay rejected by consumers who have been conditioned to believe that they deserve “nothing but the best” even if this standard of beauty is chiefly a superficial consideration. Fortunately many “Ugly Vegetable” campaigns are popping up, changing the way suppliers and consumers approach the idea of seeking perfection in the produce aisle.

“In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels”.-FAO.org

As if this weren’t bad enough, arbitrary expiration/ best before dates determined by the food manufacturer to get us to discard even more viable foodstuff also contribute to huge amounts of pointless waste, inculcating in us a paranoia that borders on the absurd and usurps common sense.

There is some hope, however. In this excellent article Christine Sismondo discusses some of the “Zero-waste” initiatives being enacted citywide and nationwide by markets, farms and chefs; even hotels, breweries and distilleries are coming up with innovative ideas to make 2017, as Ms Sismondo calls it, The Year of Mindful Eating and Drinking.

 

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And right in our own backyard, at the Wychwood Barns  on March 1st, some of Toronto’s top talent-chefs, brewers, distillers, artists and innovators- will be hosting “Trashed & Wasted,” a charity event that aims to make us re-think trash, and waste, “ for a one night celebration of the sustenance, beauty, and benefits of what was once simply trashed and wasted.” Proceeds from the event will go towards supporting Second Harvest Toronto, the main provider of fresh food to people in need in Toronto.

“Trashed & Wasted will pair innovative chefs with ethically-minded suppliers to create dishes from rescued food. Local brewers, distillers, and drinks experts will be challenged to concoct libations from repurposed ingredients. Local artists and designers will display creations from disposed and found objects….”

 Participants in the event include Sanagans Meat Locker, Porchetta & Co, Hooked Inc, Arepa Cafe, Montgomery’s Restaurant, Rainhard Brewery & Yongehurst Distillery as well as suppliers Blackbird Bakery, Chasers Juice, Chocosol, Montforte Dairy, Soma Chocolate, Sanagans Meat Locker and Hooked Inc. This is not a sit down dinner, but more like a bazaar. Admission is 35$ at the door, but only 30$ if you get in on the earlybird special 

 

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Individual food items will be on sale for 5$ each. What will these talented and ethically-minded chefs be serving? How will they tempt us with treats and dishes made from ingredients that were saved from an ignominious fate? Show up at Wychwood barns at 6 pm March 1st and find out for yourself!



Restaurants For Change

 

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“Never underestimate the power of good food cooked and eaten with others.” – Nick Saul, President & CEO of Community Food Centres Canada

If you have missed the previous iterations of the fund raising dinners, Restaurants for Change, despair not. The annual fundraiser that brings together this country’s top culinary talents is happening in fifteen cities across Canada, including right here in Toronto on Wednesday, October 19. On this date, memories of our own Thanksgiving feast will be only nine days old, and supporting this great cause is a wonderful way to “pay it forward” and to truly show thanks by sharing and advocating for healthy food for all. Continue »