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Help! Visiting Toronto Mid-March

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I will be in Toronto visiting friends for four days in two weeks. I would love some input on the following five topics.

1. Cheese Curds - When I was young, my grandmother brought cheese curds back from every fishing trip she took to Canada. I found some curds last time I was in town but they were "cheddary" and the opposite of squeaky. Please tell me where I can find some good curds to bring back to New York.

2. St. Lawrence Market - I will visit the St. Lawrence Market. I will eat a sandwich containing peameal bacon. Is this a good spot to buy cheese curds? Is there a better place to buy them? What else at the market is mandatory?

3. Poutine - I had poutine last time I was in town. I will not admit where I bought the poutine. It appears that a good place to get poutine is the blue chip truck. Yes? No? (curds mandatory)

4. What the? - What is sushi pizza?

5. Other - I live with a Canadian and have an regular supply of "strangely" flavored potato chips and exotic Canadian candies. Is there anything I haven't mentioned that I must have during my short stay?

Thanks so much.

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  1. Butter Tarts! Apparently they don't have these in the USA. Step 10 feet across the border, and nobody has heard of them.

    The best potato chips are from Old Dutch (based in Winnipeg), but you can't get them in Toronto. Note that this is not the same as the Old Dutch in Minnesota.

    2 Replies
    1. re: obstructionist

      Butter Tarts! I can't I haven't heard of these before. I've added them to my list.

      I checked out Old Dutch on Wikipedia. They say that the Winnipeg plant and the Minnesota plant are two arms of the same business. It appears that the Winnipeg plant produces smokey bacon flavored and roast chicken flavored potato chips?! I've added these to my list as well.

      Thanks so much!

      1. re: obstructionist

        Until I moved to Toronto from Montreal ten years ago, I'd never heard of a butter tart either. So it's not just the Canada/U.S. border, it appears to be the Ontario/Quebec border, as well.

      2. The sushi pizza I've had that is good, ala Trevor, is a crispy fried rice "pizza" (kind of like a rice cake but with real rice that's been fried golden brown) topped with lovely tuna sushi.
        Can't help with the cheese curds/poutine. You might want to try the veal sandwich at Mustachio's at SLM. I like the fresh sprouts and different tofu products on the lower level.
        In relation to strangely flavoured chips - gotta have Lay's Ketchup Chips. Candy - not sure if you have Allen's Sour Patch Kids, but they are a personal fave of mine. If you have already experienced these things due to living with a Cdn, bring some back for he or she!

        2 Replies
        1. re: pescatarian

          Sushi pizza sounds like it's worth a try. If I can persuade my sushi-averse host to indulge me, where should I go to try it?

          Tofu products sound great. I can't wait to visit the market!

          1. re: PAnhandler

            The tofu place I'm talking about is on the lower level on the Southeast side.

            I've only had the sushi pizza at Trevor, which is very close to the market on Wellington East. I would recommend sitting at the bar, if you are eating at Trevor. I prefer the bar menu. You can order from the main menu at the bar, if you choose, however. Try their mac and cheese if you go there as well.

        2. Cheese Curds is a tough one. I usually buy them right at the local factory outlet which tend to be scattered in the small Ontario towns. Too get that wonderful squeaky noise they need to be very fresh.

          Here is a cheese map for Ontario if you're outside of Toronto at all.
          http://www.ontariocheese.org/OCS_map.php

          I'll take a look at the market this weekend and let you know.
          Here is a good thread on the market including my 2 cents.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mila

            Oops forgot the link for the market thread.
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/105738

          2. i pick up my cheese curds every so often from the monforte cheese woman at the st. lawrence farmer's market held only on saturdays. if you happen to be there that time then nibble on some of her other items.

            unless you loooooooooove mayo in sushi, i don't quite know if sushi pizza is for you. the above description of a thick fried disc of rice with sushi on top is right.. but add in a goopy layer of mayo between and there you go. if trevor does their sushi pizza just like how they do their tuna tartare (which for the love of god i have no idea why tuna tartare would have mayo) then it's tiny tuna pieces drowning in mayo, which is pretty horrendous to me.

            also, please do NOT get your peameal from carousel but some other place in st. lawrence market - my choice is the take-out side of paddington bar. i don't get the hype, it's cold, pre-cooked dried out meat and they often forget the mustard. do go to schefflers and test out canadian cheeses to your hearts content, they'll open up any package for you to try gladly.

            4 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              I don't recall mayo on the sushi pizza at Trevor, and I am not a fan of mayo, so I think I would have noticed, or at least I would have noticed if it was drowning in it.

              1. re: pescatarian

                There was also a sausage from Quebec at Schefflers last time I was there and it was great.

                DT

                1. re: pescatarian

                  i'm glad then that you were spared what i had... i was really appalled and thus far have not been impressed by trevor the way so many others have been.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Actually, I agree with you in terms of being blown away by trevor - I haven't been either, mostly because of the mains. We enjoyed our appetizers though. That's why I recommend if people go there, they stick to the bar menu.

                    I'm glad I didn't get what you got either!

              2. You must have roti. Rare to find south of the border. Think of it as a curry burrito. My personal favourite is from Gandhi (Queen, just east of Bathurst on the north side), but they make East Indian style. A lot of folks like the West Indian style better. Do a search on "roti" on this board and you will find very lengthy threads on the topic!

                4 Replies
                1. re: TorontoJo

                  Although I've tried a few roti places in Brooklyn, I will most likely try the roti while I am in Toronto (my hosts are Trini). Any favorite West Indian roti spots?

                  1. re: PAnhandler

                    Check out this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/105970

                    You should do a comparison of a West Indian roti with Gandhi's. Both delicious.

                    And since your hosts are Trini, ask them to take you for doubles! :o)

                    1. re: PAnhandler

                      just recently grabbed a roti from roti lady in parkdale, just a touch west of dufferin and a touch south of queen st west and was quite happy with it. it's west indian style with some great curry flavouring, although lack of spicy heat, and lots of tender and perfectly cooked fall off the bone goat, beautiful light brown and pink interior. it's bone-in but the meat to bone ratio is pretty high plus the sauce doesn't take up the entire inside either. my only complaint is that the roti itself was undercooked and could have used a little more dahl between the sheets. it could have been because we arrived pretty late in the day as she had already run out of her doubles and dumplings. don't get patties there as she gets them in from some larger supplier. if you do go after patties just for the heck of it, head north up to bloor and check out caribbean queen.

                      as for sushi pizza, i should have been more helpful and mentioned that japango is by far my favourite raw fish place in the city. they definitely do the pizza and i've had friends who enjoy it quite a bit. http://www.tasteto.com/2007/02/28/ear...

                      1. re: PAnhandler

                        Island foods is hands down my favourite.

                    2. You should try the Portuguese grilled chicken with piri piri sauce and some natas (custard tart with a bit of a burnt top) in St. Lawrence Market, can't remember the name but it's downstairs near one of the exits.

                      For roti try going to Scarborough as there is a large Trini population, I enjoy going to ACR Hot Roti and Doubles, its on Lawrence Ave east one stop light east of Midland.

                      1. My favourite chocolate (Candy) bar is a Mr. Big. They don't have them in the states. You may also want to try Smarties. A slightly different M&M style candy.

                        Try some of the Niagara wines as well. We produce some fine stuff. You should try to get a bottle of Ice Wine as well. If it's in your budget. It's not cheap stuff.

                        DT

                        1. Thanks everyone. There's some great stuff here.
                          Is there another place where I can find some sushi pizza that's not so goopy?
                          I'm hoping to hit up the duty free on my way out. Any specific wine recs?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: PAnhandler

                            Peninsula Ridge is a very good winery; their sauv blanc is outstanding if you can find it. Thirty Bench has a phenomenal dry Riesling. I'd steer away from Iniskillin.

                            1. re: PAnhandler

                              Try Lily on Broadview (just north of Danforth) for a decent sushi pizza and I don't recall an over abundance of mayo.

                              My impression of sushi pizza is that it is just another way to present essentially the same ingredients you get in most common maki rolls. For great sushi I'd go to Japango. I'm pretty sure they should have a sushi pizza, and their signature maki rolls are wonderful.

                              1. re: PAnhandler

                                Nami on Adelaide east of Yonge was the original "sushi pizza" purveyor. It is great. they have a wonderful robata grill there with awesome grilled sardines.

                              2. Both cheese curds and poutine are more Quebec than Toronto/Ontario. Maybe Gramma was fishing atlantic salmon in eastern Quebec? If you were travelling there, they would issue you a pound of cheese curd at the border and force everyone to do a poutine shooter, which would save you some time and effort.

                                In any event, you should be able to get decent versions of each in TO, although I cannot help in that regard.

                                I can tell you that you need not be ashamed of eating inauthentic pout, whether it be some sort of fast food version or whatever. This is hardcore drink'n food and you really shouldn't even remember THAT you ate it, let alone where it was from (same holds true for donair on the east coast, although it is a little more difficult to forget).

                                The stuff I used to eat in my Halifax undergradutate days was made with grated canadian mozzarella and the sauce came from a can. It was as authentic as a James Brown stage faint, but it was manna on a Friday night at 3:00 a.m.

                                Almost forgot - dill pickle chips. Nuff said....

                                Hope you enjoy your visit - Toronto is a fun town.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BarnNB

                                  Ok, ok. My first and only taste of poutine was at COSTCO!

                                  Canadian's appear to have a great big love for the dill pickle. I receive regular shipments of dill pickle popcorn seasoning and dill pickle sunflower seeds from north-of-the-border. I'll try the chips this time.