Ontario Fresh – Seasonal Food in August

August offers the best of both worlds – a mix of summery fruits and the first tastes of the Fall harvest to come.  Peaches are awesome, pears and grapes start to show up and leeks add great flavour to homemade soups.

Look our for the following in Saturday’s Farmers’ Market and/or in your grocer’s produce aisle.

  • Apples (fresh, but not until mid to late month), Apricots (fresh), Artichokes, Asian Veggies
  • Beans, green & wax (fresh), Beets (fresh, with or without greens), Blueberries (fresh), Broccoli (fresh)
  • Cabbage (fresh), Cantelope (fresh), Carrots (fresh), Cauliflower (fresh), Celery (fresh), Chard (fresh), Corn (fresh), Cucumber (fresh field)
  • Eggplant (fresh)
  • Garlic (fresh), Grapes (fresh)
  • Kale (fresh), Kohlrabi (fresh)
  • Leeks (fresh), Lettuce (fresh)
  • Muskmelon (fresh)
  • Nectarines (fresh)
  • Onions (fresh; sometims sold with the greens.  Also storage type start ot appear)
  • Peaches (fresh), Pears (fresh), Peas (fresh), Peppers (field, fresh), Plums, yellow (fresh), Plums, purple (fresh),Potatoes (fresh)
  • Radiccio (fresh), Rapini (fresh), Raspberries (fresh), Rutabaga (fresh)
  • Shallots, Spinach (fresh; scarce as it prefers cooler weather), Strawberries (fresh, day-neutral varieties)
  • Tomatoes (fresh field), Tomatillos (fresh), Turnips (fresh)
  • Watermelon (fresh)
  • Zucchini/Other summer squash (fresh)

 

Ontario Fresh Produce – what’s in season in July

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime and the living is … easy?  Sweaty most assuredly but easy is up for debate. What summertime does bring is amazing Ontario produce. The Weston Village Farmers’ Market is brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables that are not to be missed.

I know it’s mid-July and it’s a little late in the game to offer up a list of seasonal food for this month, but perhaps you can forgive me under the clause of, “it’s better late than never”?

I’m a huge fan of the Weston Village Farmer’s Market and think that it has the potential to be one of Toronto’s best. In the coming weeks I will be posting more about the market and about some of the folks who make it great.  I’ve spoken to numerous vendors already and it’s clear that farmers, chefs, butchers, bakers and even candlestick makers unanimously love being in Weston.  They are here rain or shine, every Saturday from May through to October and their produce and products are seriously top notch.

I also heard concern within the vendor community – there are seemingly fewer farmers and fewer patrons this year than in years past.  I have yet to talk to the BIA to discuss stats etc., but that’s one of my future stops.  For now, I will leave you with this long list of July-ready fruits and vegetables to whet your appetite in preparation for Saturday’s market.  To sweeten the pot, I’ll post about Local Basket farmer Danny Werner tomorrow and Grandpa Ken’s World Famous Peameal Sandwiches next week.

What’s your favourite produce this time of year?

  • Apricots (fresh)
  • Beans, green & wax (fresh), Beets (fresh, with or without greens), Blueberries (fresh), Broccoli (fresh)
  • Cabbage (fresh), Carrots (fresh), Cauliflower (fresh), Celery (fresh), Chard (fresh), Cherries, sweet (fresh), Cherries, sour (fresh, can also buy prep’d & frozen), Corn (fresh), Cucumber (fresh field), Currants (fresh)
  • Gooseberries (fresh)
  • Kohlrabi (fresh)
  • Lettuce (fresh)
  • Onions (fresh; often sold with the greens)
  • Peas (fresh), Plums-Yellow (fresh),Potatoes (fresh)
  • Radiccio (fresh), Rapini (fresh), Raspberries (fresh), Rutabaga (fresh)
  • Spinach (fresh; hard to find as really prefers cooler weather), Strawberries (fresh, traditional varieties)
  • Tomatoes (fresh field, but not until late in the month), Turnips (fresh)
  • Zucchini/Other summer squash (fresh)

This list was compiled through information provided by Foodland Ontario’s Availability Guide and other similar online resources.

The Museum + Arts Pass = FREE admission to some of Toronto’s greatest institutions!

Looking for budget-friendly summer stay-cation ideas? Day trips can get pricey quickly – with admission fees, meals, transportation/parking/gas you’ve probably spent a hundred bucks when all is said and done. But with the help of Toronto Public Library and their sponsors, you and your family can visit some of our fine city’s major arts and culture institutions for FREE. Yep. Free.

The Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) is an ingenious program offered through all TPL branches. Here’s the deal: every week library branches distribute a limited number of family attraction passes to folks with a valid adult library card. These passes cover the cost of admission for up to two adults and 2-5 kids (stipulations vary per venue – read about them here). Ask for the MAP booklet the next time you’re visiting the Weston Public Library. Inside you’ll find the conditions for each venue, examples of available activities for the kiddies and recommendations for library resources that you can borrow to maximize your experience. No children? No problem. Make it a date night (afternoon?) or head down with your best bud. High-fives to the TPL and participating venues!

I have hotlinked all of the participating venues below. Click on the venue and you should be sent directly to their website. I think it’s important to note that the venues donate the tickets in the spirit of making arts/culture accessible to everyone!

Please note that the Weston Public Library is a priority neighbourhood branch and therefore has access passes to all of the places above. This is not the case at all library locations. Weston Library also currently distributes the passes alloted to the temporarily-closed-for-construction Mount Dennis branch.

Passes are in high demand, so plan accordingly. The Zoo and Science Centre passes are very popular – six Zoo passes are available at the WPL starting Saturday upon opening at 9am – they’re often gone by 10am.

Jewelry Artist showcased in Weston this weekend!

Now this, dear readers, is something you don’t want to miss.  The Artists-to-Artists Foundation is presenting the exquisite work of Jewelry Artist, Deverae Shaw this weekend from June 21 – June 24 inclusive.

Shaw’s 2012 Spring/Summer collection entitled, Santara, combines semi precious stones, wood, charms and fabric with woven wire to create fashionable pieces of art.  This showing will include over 60 pieces of Shaw’s current collection.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen Shaw’s work up-close-and-personal, however I have seen photos.  I wish I could provide some visuals for you to peruse (even drool over) but I cannot get my hands on any!  What I can tell you is that Shaw’s work showcases impressive technical skill, an immense sense of design and a love of beautiful colours and fine materials.

Shaw’s use of colour ranges from subtle earth tones and metallics to neons and rich primary hues.

I’m not one for fashion fads but I do like when a designer can take a classic look and incorporate aspects of current trends.  Neon colours on their own scream 1987 in my humble non-fashionista opinion, but Shaw strikes an impressive balance of classic and contemporary details.  Truly wearable art!  A must see.

You can view Shaw’s work at the Artists-To-Artists gallery space at 1 Victoria Avenue West which is off of Weston Road, South of Lawrence.

Thursday & Friday  3:00pm – 8:30pm.
Weekend 1:00pm – 8pm

 

Written by: Melissa on June 22, 2012.

P&M’s—lots of history and a bright future

You know about P&M restaurant, right? You may even be well-acquainted with their AMAZING burgers, great fish n’ chips and unbeatable breakfasts.  Every great town needs a great family-run restaurant – and boy, have we lucked out with P&M.

You are missing out if you have not yet experienced the hospitality and good eats of Frank Kalamaris and the P&M gang.  P&M Restaurant opened it’s doors 37 years ago, under the leadership of Frank’s father, George, a recent immigrant from Chios, Greece.  With a keen eye for business and traditional family recipes passed down to him through generations, George set up shop in Weston in 1975, with Frank in tow eager to learn the trade.  It would seem that the Kalamarises possess a strong entrepreneurial gene as Frank’s fraternal cousin, Peter carries on his own father’s legacy at Peter’s Barber Shop located on John Street.

Frank has seen Weston change over the better part of the last four decades and has, at times, been very concerned about the direction Weston has headed.  By his own admission, Frank isn’t much of a politician but perhaps our governmental representatives should visit for a little dose of advice to go with the amazing soulvlaki and homemade tzatziki.  Frank cites poverty, changing priorities of families and past political funding initiatives as major contributing factors to Weston’s rise in crime.  Despite the transitions that Weston has experienced, Frank predicts good things for the future.

I share Frank’s optimism.  P&M is gearing up to move into a new larger location.  Frank has purchased the building that currently houses the Central Bar and Grillyou know the one —they’ve got 2 yellow-cards from Toronto Public Health inspectors.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for this change.

The larger space will allow for more seating plus additional cooking and prep space. The current situation demands that staff cart supplies up and down stairs to an apartment space above, used solely for storage.

In the meantime, the family tradition continues at 1972 Weston Road with Niki (Frank’s wife), Mary (Frank’s twin sister), Stacey (Niki’s sister) Mandy (a member of their restaurant family) and George (Franks’s son) turning out homemade take-out and dine-in orders faster than any ‘fast food’ establishment in the area.  Obviously there is no comparison in terms of taste—that would be like comparing huge freshly picked apples offered with a smile to a dried out orange that you find hanging out in the back of your fridge.

Retirement isn’t in the cards for Frank any time soon, however George is quickly getting up to speed as he is studying Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management at Humber College.  Frank can’t say for certain if George plans to take over the business one day and is leaving the decision up to his son to make for himself.  George has already contributed to new menu items (I don’t know if this includes the reintroduction of hot dogs but I’m looking forward to trying the grill-top style street meat soon) and he has also set up a P&M facebook page that keeps fans updated about specials and new menu items.  And I should mention, in case you don’t know yet, that the servings are huge.  Always piping hot.  Always quick.  And the fries….OH. THE. FRIES.

I’ll keep my eye on P&M and report back when they make their big move.  Of course I will exercise correspondant prudence and check back with the folks at P&M for updates – often.  Any menu recommendations?  If you haven’t yet tried Niki’s homemade rice pudding, it’s an absolute must on your next visit.  P & M is truly one of the best parts of Weston!

 

 

Wiff Restaurant: Serving delicious Somali-Italian food in Weston!

One of the best parts of living in Toronto is the near-endless cuisine options ranging from Mom-n-Pop style greasy spoons to restaurants cooking up authentic fare from traditions the world over. We don’t have quite the selection of delights available in the city’s downtown core, but I love that Weston has welcomed new restaurants into the community. Wakame Sushi is busy (a good indicator that the fish isn’t kickin’ around for several days before it meets your dragon roll) and my neighbour swears the best chicken roti in the city is found at Ritz Caribbean Food on Jane Street. I plan to put his roti theory to the test soon.

But did you know that we have a Somali-Italian fusion restaurant in the neighbourhood? Yep – and I recommend you add it to your list of restaurants to try this summer. Wiff Restaurant opened it’s doors in August 2010 and have been cooking up good eats ever since. Cuisine in Somalia differs from region to region, and has been influenced by surrounding African countries and the relative close proximity to India. Somalia, like the vast majority of African countries, has experienced a long history of European colonization, hence the Somali-Italian fusion. The Somali owners of Wiff, Asha and Zahara speak fluent Italian in addition to Somali and English.

This past Saturday I was treated to a culinary smorgasbord of Somali and Italian cuisine at Wiff’s Taste of Somalia. The aromas alone were divine but it was the food that makes me want to return again soon. For 10 bucks, we were treated to a mountainous plate of delicacies ranging from superb roasted goat to moderately spicy but majorly tasty samosas. The pakoras were very flavorful and the chicken well cooked. Even the rice was great. I can’t report on the portion sizes of individual dishes as the food was set-up buffet style for the event and the chefs and volunteers filled our plates generously.  I’d skip the iceburg-lettuce-salad though, but then again this may not be on the actual menu and only part of the offerings for the event. I should also mention that all of the food was piping hot temperature wise but not overly spicy. Sauces that offered serious heat were on offer but they’re optional.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that owners Asha and Zahara had run a restaurant for years in their native land of Somalia – experience, in this case, does make the difference. What did surprise me was the owners’ commitment to offering meals that use less fat and less salt while maintaining authentic and quality food. More often than not when a restaurant menu item denotes that it’s low-fat, it should also read low-taste, in my humble opinion. This was not the case at Wiff and I suspect that because the food is so well-seasoned and well-cooked, they don’t need to rely on excessive oils to up the flavour factor.

Asha has assured me that I had just begun to taste the flavours of Somalia and that Saturday was, as she put it, “the tip of the iceberg.”  I’d go back if it indeed was the whole iceberg (so to speak) but I’m looking forward to tasting what else is on offer. With their hours of operation being 6am to 10pm,  I’ll have lots of opportunities to head back.