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Peameal bacon, Canadian specialties, where?

  • c

I am visiting Toronto and would like to know where to get the best peameal bacon sandwich and any other Canadian specialties I might want to try. I read something about cheese curds. What are these? Should I seek them out? Thanks!
P.S. I had an earlier post about my 1st time visiting and I got a wealth of info. I would love some helpful tips on this as well! Thx :)

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  1. Cheese curds are essentially fresh cheddar before it has been placed into forms and pressed into blocks. The ideal cheese curds are purchased on the day of manufacture as they are still wet with the whey and will squeek against your teeth as you eat them. If you are able to travel out east and hunt down a dairy that makes their own cheese (such as Ivanhoe and Forfar), they are a great item...

    Getting truly fresh curds in Toronto is rare as you usually have to go to the dairy to get them truly fresh. The curds you get in the markets in Toronto tend to be overly salted frozen bits of cheese...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mike from Hamilton

      What Mike said. Cheese curds are more of a Quebec thing, featured in poutine. They are not associated with Toronto, well only in that we moan the lack of good ones.

    2. For the best peameal sandwiches go to Toronto's historic food market, The St. Lawrence Market at 92 Front St. East (east of Yonge Street). Lots of places sell it there but the best is at the Carousel Bakery, served on fresh bun (put some honey mustard on it too). Enjoy! You can also but cheese curd at any of the cheese stores in the market

      1. Where are you from? What types of foods are you interested in?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Full tummy

          I live in San Francisco and I work in the restaurant industry at a fine dining establishment. I like all kinds of food but not too big on offal (sp?) and things like foie gras and sweetbreads. I know some people are gasping, but hey! We all have our preferences. :0)

          1. re: Cups

            You probably have a fairly cosmopolitan selection of restaurants & food shops in San Fran, I'm assuming. But some of the things you might enjoy that you may not have so much of down there are Canadian artisanal cheese, available at quite a few cheese shops, but Alex Farms is a great place to start, and there are several locations around the city. Personally, I love the Cheese Boutique (which is not just fabulous cheese), a great store in the west end that could compete with so many gourmet stores. You might also want to try some French Canadian foods like tourtiere, but others may be more knowledgable about this type of food and where to get it. Are these the types of things you're interested in? Is there an area of the city that will be more accessible to you? How far afield are you willing to travel?

            1. re: Full tummy

              Yeah, I am interested in all foods in general, but because my time is limited, I'd like to scope out the best places. I am really interested in anything Canadian. Although it isn't super different from the US, I still would like to immerse myself in the culture and food of the area. Its what I like to do when I travel. The Cheese Boutique sounds cool, I will definitely check it out. As far as travelling, I will be without a car so I suppose I would go anywhere that is accessible via public transportation. I will be staying downtown.
              I am taking a trip to Niagara Falls and would love to check out the wine region, but that most likely won't happen. The trip to the Falls does stop at one winery on the way back, but I am not counting on that to be the best- who knows maybe it will be! Any ice wine tips? Never tried it, but I hear fabulous things...can't wait! Cups

              1. re: Cups

                Sounds like fun. Too bad you won't be able to stop in at some of the wineries. Ice wine is very expensive, and it's sweet which some people don't like, but you can opt for a less expensive option late harvest vidal from one of the Ontario wineries. A visit to the LCBO store near where your staying will probably yield some options. Some have suggested a visit to St. Lawrence Market, which would be a great idea, too, and Alex Farms has a stall there as do some other cheese vendors. Unfortunately, there won't be much in the way of Ontario produce, but you may find a tourtiere. I've read that 2nd Wind who farm elk sell an elk tourtiere, but I think they're in the north market, which I believe is only open on Saturdays. Perhaps others who are more informed about the Market can advise. Hope you have fun.

                1. re: Full tummy

                  That;s right Full tummy, the North market is only open on Saturdays and Cups should be able to by meat pies, including tortiere from there. There are a few stalls that offer Ontario produce, but only things that have been stored all winter. For example there is a guy in the extreme northeast corner who sells organic apples hes grown and stored, and he has many different local varieties. The meat pie/elk guys are in the SW corner, and you can sample amazing sauasages from a good german butcher in the SE corner.

        2. I think Finnegan was right, if there's somewhere that'll have lots of food choices for you to try it would be St. Lawrence Market....

          1. My two cents on Peameal bacon (back bacon) in the city. We have standard fare PB and fabulous PB in the city. Standard fare is Carousel (mentioned above) and it is served in an environment of a marketplace. Very canadian as you will find loads of domestic product - maple syrup, cheeses, breads, etc. So the atmosphere and the PB makes for an hour, maybe two, of touristing. The PB is average. It lacks great flavour and it is often overcooked, sometimes rubbery and sometimes soggy. The bun is a standard fare kaiser which suits a PB sandwich very well.

            The Drake hotel on Queen West has a cafe (not fancy) that serves fantastic made in house PB amongst other great dishes and wonderful pastries and cookies. The mac and cheese is amazing too. They dont offer a PB sandwich on the menu, but instead as a part of a breakfast meal with great eggs. If you ask, they may create a sandwich for you.

            Insomnia on Bloor at Bathurst also serves up great PB, but for a quick visit, go Drake!

            2 Replies
            1. re: deelicious

              Just wanted to add for the locals...IMO even Georges up the street on Richmond has much better PB than carousel.

              1. re: deelicious

                This isn't going to help Cups, but in the summer, the best back bacon ('peameal') on a bun is at Grandpa Ken's. On Saturdays he's at the Weston Market, and on Thursday, I think, he's at the City Hall Farmers' market. Great, always freshly made back-bacon-on-a-bun, eh?

              2. Don't get your hopes up. There is very little in Canadian food that is different from northeast/midwest American. There are some Quebec and Maritime dishes, but very little else. Maybe peameal bacon and nanimo bars. Can't think of anything else.

                2 Replies
                1. re: wordsworth

                  Here are some items that are Canadian and should be of novelty to our guest. Some are covered in other threads: butter tarts; Brome Lake duck; Amish summer sausage; wild rice; Pine River 6 or 7 year old Canadian cheddar; any fesh Canadian Lamb dish; Kraft Dinner; maple this and that; bannock, and if the season is right - sweet corn - Ontario still rules.

                  Being from San Francisco the greatest fresh-water fishery in the world should be compared to their Pacific offerings: perch; walleye; ciscoe; herring; whitefish and lake trout. Not too many countries have arctic char either.

                  Fresh water smoked fish: Winnipeg goldeye; smoked whitefish; smoked chub; smoked lake trout, and smoked freshwater salmon.

                  These are Upper Canada offerings - haven't even touched the Woodlands Aboriginals, the Maritimes or Quebec.

                  1. re: DockPotato

                    Thanks DockPotato! Awesome, thorough, love it!

                2. I think one of the greatest things about T.O. is the variety and quality of ethnic food available. You can get pretty much anything, and it'll be great if you know where to go (except Mexican, as per other current threads!). Try something that may not be so available in San Fran (jerk chicken, roti and curried goat perhaps?).

                  As for "Canadian" food, I've had stellar dressed-up poutine at J.K. Wine Bar and Bouchon. If you want the real deal, you'll have to head over to Quebec though.

                  And icewine is a definite must. To be honest, I prefer a nice late harvest reisling (Cave Spring does a great one). Check out the LCBO, as suggested. Just a note, in case you're not very familiar with the Ontario system, try to go to an LCBO with a "Vintages" section (sometimes it's even a separate store).

                  Good luck.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: littlegreenpea

                    Littlegreanpea...awesome, thank you.

                  2. Thanks to everyone for posting! I feel much more confident about the trip! Don't hesitate to add anything, I still have a week before I leave. :0)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Cups

                      Montreal-style bagels from The Bagel House. They're smoky and really yummy. Don't miss them!

                    2. There is a great thread under the 'general topics' Talking about what is better in Canada. Might give you an idea of different things to try to see if they really are better.