Toronto is a multi-cultural hub of food. Traveling has pushed food to the forefront for me. I fantasize about it, and once in a while eat it. Check out my faves from the largest city in Canada.
1. Seafood – Buster’s Sea Cove
Famous St. Lawrence Market is an international food explosion. When you enter the main doors walk all the way to the end of the first floor and take a right. What assaults you are rows and rows of any seafood imaginable. I munched on creamy lobster bisque and seafood orzo, chock full of mussels and prawns. Prices are unbelievably reasonable and the variety of ways to eat a particular fish will make your head spin. The fish sandwiches are a popular item. No metallic or fishy flavors, just damn good. Address: 93 Front Street East. 1-416-369-9048. Off the King subway line. Price range: $10 to $17 CDN.
2. Caribbean – Caribbean Bistro
You want home cooked jerk chicken or stewed oxtail, this is THE place. I was surprised to find this gem in a fairly overpriced retail neighbourhood. Sample the Sahiena, a spinach fritter made with split pea flour, herbs, and a hint of garlic. Served with tamarind chutney. Quench your thirst with Pear Drax, a carbonated drink infused with natural juices (apple and other flavors available). I ordered the stewed fish and ate every single bite of the tender fish slowly cooked in tomato sauce, topped with rice, beans and coleslaw. When there, ask if any Cassava (yuca or manioc) cake is available. Her cousin bakes it, and it’s rarely served, but when it is – yum! Address: 2439 Yonge Street, 1-416-480-1581. Off the Eglinton subway line. Price range: $5 to $19 CDN.
3. Breakfast – Insomnia
A breakfast place is just that – not much. But when a chef tosses together seemingly normal ingredients with pizzaz and creativity, the results make me quiver and see star-bursts. My brunch included poached eggs, homemade hollandaise sauce on top of cornmeal biscuits and potatoes sauteed in a tomato based sauce. Standard hash browns now pale in comparison. With a side of greens, I half convinced myself this was healthy. Address: 536 Bloor St. West, 1-416-588-3907. Off the Bathurst subway line. Price range: $10 to $17 CDN. http://insomniacafe.com.
4. Gelato – Dolce Gelato
Little Italy in Toronto is a central tourist draw, which sends some lifestyle travelers seeking a dingy cafe to stake claim on yet another unknown find. Not I. If it’s good, I go. I ate, and it was sweet and creamy. Plus, they gave me a dark chocolate ice cream sandwich for free. I indulged with a scoop of coconut and pistachio. Don’t assume all you can get is gelato here, satisfy your caffeine craving with an espresso or cappuccino. Address: 697 College Street, 1-416-915-0756. Off the Ossington subway line. Price range: $3 to $10 CDN (they serve alcohol,too). www.dolcegelato.net.
5. Dim Sum – Bright Pearl
By nature or nurture, dim sum is in my blood. I’m also a traditionalist, adoring the carts wheeling by my table, inhaling freshly steamed har gow or red bean buns. As the server grabs a bamboo steamer with tongs, ticking off your selection on a neatly typed list, the brain seizes to twitter. This kind of scene propels you into lazy eating, where conversation filters in slowly and food consumption is not rushed, just considered. Bright Pearl is also located in bustling Chinatown. As I walked to meet my friend, it felt like Hong Kong had formed in 3D all around me. Now that’s dim sum you can’t pass up. Address: 346 – 348 Spadina Ave (upstairs). 1-416-979-3988. Price range: varies, depends on how much you eat! I spent a paltry $17 CDN. www.brightpearlseafood.com.
Photo: Gary Choo