Anyone who knows me and/or my writing will have gathered that I’m a bit of a barfly. I mean this in the most reputable sense of the word, i.e. that my favourite place to quaff a glass of wine and eat good food is at the bar of certain establishments.
Whenever I cross the ocean to visit my mother in her lovely North-West London neighbourhood of Primrose Hill, we set out for dinner on our first or second night together to the wondrous nearby Greek restaurant called Limonia. Always packed, it is a local favourite with celebs and regular folk alike.
Having grown up in a family that refused to stay put, I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to put down roots. I found them in an instant when I walked into Toronto’s feisty, colourful and inimitable Kensington Market one sunny day in the late 1970s and knew immediately that this was home. Its ethnic mix, Jewish history and cheaply cheerful warmth proved irresistible and I lived happily in the heart of this wonderful place for more than 25 years, nearly all of them in the same house on Augusta Ave. facing a lively park.
You know those magical moments in cooking – when you put something together, almost haphazardly, and it turns out to be sublime.
That happened to me recently when a friend came over to cook dinner at my house using the contents of my fridge as our guide – possibly my favourite way to spend time.
As a longtime food writer and one-time restaurant critic, I dread the oft-asked question:
“Which is your favourite restaurant?”
My usual response to this query about Toronto, my former home of 30 years (these days, the same info is asked of Stratford, Ont., where I now live – more of that in a future blog) is to request that the person name a category: high-end or cheap and cheerful, ethnicity of food, area of town etc. etc. Even then, as I rifle through my virtual restaurant rolodex, I’m often stumped.
I’ve been eating that delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (pronounced feu) for at least 10 years, mostly at one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants in the heart of downtown Chinatown: Sai Gon Palace, 454 Spadina Ave. just south of College.
Recently, I had a Calvin Trillin moment at this popular, spacious no-frills eatery with the semi-open kitchen. A creature of habit, I am a regular here with a regular menu choice.