Posts Tagged ‘Toronto


Lysteria and Safe Food Handling Practices

I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize the importance of safe food handling practices.

Far too often we rush through meal preparation without considering what types of bacteria we may be transferring to our bodies from our food.

Listeriosis monocytogenes found in meat products from a processing plant in Toronto has recently been linked to several deaths and illnesses in Canada.

Listeriosis monocytogenes is a bacterium found in food which mainly affects the elderly, newborns, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. It is mainly found in water and soil.

There are systems and regulations in place in food production facilities to ensure that bacterium like Lysteriosis don’t make it into the food supply chain. Those systems are what keep your food safe to eat. They are not foolproof.

Maple Leaf Foods, Canada, recalled all products made at the Toronto plant since January 2008. ( ). They also shut down the plant.

I think this incident underlines why we need to be our body’s last line of defence when it comes to food-borne illnesses. There are things we can do on an individual level to prevent illness.

Here are some preventative measures as listed on the center for disease control and prevention website: ( )

“General recommendations:

  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.
  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:

  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
  • Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
  • Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten. “

My French Canadian Food Experience

Being Canadian, my first real experience with French food had nothing to do with France. I’ve never been to Paris, and unlike many other food writers, have no tales of eating Oysters straight from the sea, or standing in lines at posh bakeries.

My first sampling of what I consider really great French food came rather unexpectedly on my first night in Quebec City.

I was 18 years old, and had just taken my very first trip by train. It had been a 12hr ordeal involving a transfer in Toronto and Montreal. It was February, and I realized just how different French and English speaking Canada were when I switched trains in Montreal. The station was crammed full of fur coats and cigarettes. Both have been all but abolished in Ontario’s public spaces.

When I finally got to Quebec City, it was well after dark, and I was able to see very little of the city as I rolled into the station. I had a long wait at the “Gare du Palais” because my ride was expecting me to come by bus for some reason.

After a snow-silent trek into the city’s suburbs (Ancienne Lorette), I was ushered into an upstairs apartment and introduced to my host with a kiss-kiss to the cheeks. I’m convinced Quebecers do this to shock and embarrass Ontarians, whom they tend to consider stuck-up and puritanical.

Inside I was treated to what I still consider my benchmark of French comfort food. Hot bowls of onion soup sat at each place around the table. Warm French bread was sliced and spread on a platter, and different pates and spreads had been placed haphazardly around the table. The lights were dimmed, candles were lit, and conversations were carried out in a broken French/ English hybrid. This is the moment I fell in love with French food.

I’ve travelled many times since to Quebec City, Montreal, and once even managed to make it as far east as Rivierre-du-Loups. During each trip I’ve managed to improve my French, make friends, and have new experiences with food.

While still a starving student with very little money, I had my first escargots in the beautiful dining room at the Chateau Frontenac. We filled up on bread and left a pretty lousy tip, but felt like we were among the nouveau riche as we left.

That same trip I was introduced to “Fruits de mer”, a mixed seafood dish presented in a dinner plate sized sea shell.

The thing I love most about Quebec is that the best food turns up in the most unlikely places. I had the very best poutine I’ve ever tasted in a bus station, while sitting on my luggage waiting for a bus. For anyone who doesn’t know what poutine is, or has only had a cheap imitation, real poutine is made using fresh cut french-fries, cheese curds, and beef gravy. I think the key is that the cheese can’t be of the processed variety, and the fries and gravy have to be piping hot. Quebec has some of the best cheese producers in North America.

Montreal has it’s own food culture.

Based heavily on both French and Jewish traditions, Montreal is the best place in Canada to get smoked meat sandwiches and bagels. It is also a good place to explore the more cutting edge modern French Canadian cuisine.

Je me souviens


Coffee Porter

Coffee Porter, originally uploaded by adelphos24.

For a while now, I’ve been in the habit of occasionally picking up a six pack of individual beer. I always try to get a good mix, rarely picking up more than two of the same kind. Doing this has allowed me to sample a wide variety of beer, without having to go through an entire case of one I don’t necessarily care for.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that this coffee beer I had picked up, admittedly for novelty more than anything else, was not only locally brewed at the mill street brewery in Toronto, but made using coffee from my favorite local coffee house, Balzacs coffee.
Two of my favorite things in one bottle.
I’ve been a fan of dark beer for quite a few years now, and I can really appreciate the smoothness of a well made porter. The coffee flavour is admittedly subtle, but rounds the flavour out nicely.
Just a note for anyone unfamiliar with dark beer: don’t chug it!
Dark beer tends to get a bad rep for being too heavy, bitter and strong. All of that is true, to a certain extent, especially if you try to down a bottle in one gulp.
As a general rule, a pint from a tap is the best way to have a dark beer. From a bottle is a convenient way to get it at home. I can’t stand dark beer from a can. Also, just a personal quirk, I only tend to indulge in dark beer in the colder months.
It’s ideal for sitting around, chatting with friends, on an evening when you’d rather not be outside.