I find it amazing that my tastes in food have changed so much over my lifetime. From little things like hating spinach one minute to craving it now for years; or going vegetarian while living in Europe in the early nineties (“good luck with that!” my friends would say), my diet has been all over the place…but I like it that way!
My first memory of food is corn flakes and Kraft Dinner, (for those of you in a faraway land that is a brand of macaroni and cheese. Later, as a wee child, an Italian dish came to my attention…pizzie pie. I recall a woman on television explaining how to make one; I found it laughably simple and I was only about six. It was the late sixties, and in no time pizzerias opened up all across my city (North Bay). Between La Piaza, Cortina and Greco’s Pizza I looked forward to every night my parents were going out to a party or event because it meant “pizza night”! To this day, every time I go home, I make a stop to Grego’s and still think it’s one of the best tasting pizzas on the planet.
We had no real Chinese food in North Bay. Combination A,B,C or Dinner Special 1,2,3 it was all white rice and chicken balls. No sushi, bagels, saag paneer, spanakopita or anything very interesting. I used to hitch hike to Toronto and spend the weekend. Most times I’d have lunch or dinner in China Town. I feel in love with the way dim sum was served in various carts wandering past your table. I would point at the seafood and they’d bill me according to how many empty plates were in front of me. Easy to order without a menu and made fresh! There are so many decent Chinese restaurants it seems pointless to name drop but I suppose my main three haunts are Kings Noodle at Dundas and Spadina for kai-lan and curry squid, Kowloon for terrific dim sum and Swatow for just about anything.
The minute I arrived in Toronto I bee-lined to The Beaches. I was chagrined to find that the food was so similar to North Bay and spent most of my time on streetcars going to China Town or Little India. For decades now, I’ve spent most Sundays on my trusty ten-speed bike, searching for new restaurants all over Toronto.
Sushi is my current passion. Hiro Sushi on King Street is my favourite, but as it’s also one of the more expensive places to dine, I don’t get there as often as I’d like. (http://www.hirosushi.ca) Sushi Time on Queen West will always have a place in my heart. (http://www.sushitimetoronto.com) I hired Anthony and Tony, two Chinese owners who really know what they’re doing, to cater my Sunset Sushi Rooftop Cocktail Party on top of our recording studio on Soho Street. Much Music showed up to shoot it, tons of friends showed up dressed to impress and we ate and drank for hours…all paid for by BMG Music. It’s fun to have a major record deal sometimes! One night in 2010 I took Melody Gardot for eight bottles of sake and a Japanese Feast. We ended up listening to Duke Ellington’s Far Eastern Suite and Afro Eurasian Eclipse – she told me years later that evening had lasting effect and she’s been inspired by Duke’s later recordings ever since. But I digress…sushi, yeah that’s it…my current favourite Sushi joint is up on Eglinton, called Edo. (http://www.edosushi.com/) The chef, Oh-Makase, is a true master of Japanese Cuisine!
I love spanakopita and the best place I’ve found in Toronto is Akropolis Pastries (http://www.akropolispastries.com/?page=home) .
Cheese, spinach and for carnivores, meat pies too. I first met went there in the eighties when I lived briefly on Eaton Avenue but then returned faithfully every month or two for decades after. Seeing the owner, Tom, is like visiting a favourite uncle.
Coming Soon! More of my favourite places…