Joanne Kates Returns!

Huge congrats to Joanne Kates who is taking the helm as the new food critic for Post City Magazines. After 38 years as the food critic for the Globe and Mail, we're so happy to see her familiar writing again.

Read more about the announcement from Post City here.

Dorset Cereals to the rescue

Now that I'm (somewhat of) an adult, I've come to appreciate the value of a good breakfast. While working a busy job at a public relations agency, I got into the habit of catching up with other busy friends over breakfast. Without the prodding of Parker Mason, it might not have been my inclination, but it's grown to become one of my favourite ways to connect with people. At the beginning of the day, you are fresh and focused, without being distracted or weighed down by the events of the day. It's also a real treat to feel like you have carved out some time for yourself – good quality soul time (…or mischievous friends blowing off steam with jokes and shenanigans.)

All this morning socializing has resulted in a generous and decadent expectation around the first meal of the day. After enjoying weekday omelettes and fancy granola, my standard for breakfast has been elevated and I've actually found myself in a bit of a conundrum. Most breakfast options are either greasy, or, if they masquerading as a 'healthier option,' they are loaded with sugars and empty calories. If it wasn't already abundantly clear to you, I'm not shy about breakfast. I don't really care about consuming an abundance of calories first thing in the morning as I figure I have an entire day to burn them off and, frankly, I think most people could do with a good few more calories for their morning meal. I want to eat something wholesome, healthy and hearty!

This is why I was so pleased to receive some generous samples of Dorset Cereals, one of those companies that puts a lot of time and care into creating the best products possible. Founded in Poundbury, England amidst winding country lanes and beautiful coastlines, the company is all about the simple pleasures in life. Dorset cereals boast terrific natural wholegrain ingredients that are blended together without additional sugars, weird chemical fillers or extra preservatives.

The flavour options in Canada include:

  • Simply Delicious Muesli – Raisins, sultanas, sunflowers seeds, dates, Brazil nuts, roasted hazelnuts and multi-grain flakes
  • Fruit, Nuts & Seeds Muesli – raisins, flame raisins, dates, sunflower seeds toasted coconut and chopped, roasted hazelnuts
  • Really Nutty Muesli – Cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sultanas, dates, flame raisins and multi-grain flakes
  • Super High Fibre Muesli – A blend of toasted cereals with flame raisins, dates, sunflower seeds, toasted coconut and chopped, roasted hazelnuts
  • Super Cranberry, Cherry & Almond Muesli – Cranberries, cherries, almonds, raisins, sultanas, sunflower seeds, flame raisins and toasted cereals

And the following cereal blends were just recently introduced in Canada:

  • Simply Nutty Muesli - Multi–grain flakes with whole almonds, oat flakes, dates, Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Honey Granola – Crunchy oats, sunflower seeds, flaked almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds

Healthy scorecard:

  • High in fibre
  • Contains whole grains
  • No added preservatives
  • No added sugar
  • Suitable for vegans
  • Kosher options

I've been enjoying Dorset Cereals with Greek yogurt for a high fibre, high protein, high energy breakfast option. Dorset Cereals have more fruits, nuts and taste than traditional muesli, which means that, when I ride my bike to work, I'm not famished by 10 am.

Delicious Dorset Cereals can be found at the following groceries:
Loblaw, Fortinos, Sobey’s, Sobey’s West, Sobey’s Atlantic, Price Chopper, Metro, Metro Quebec, Longo’s & London Drugs.

Or you can consult the company's website for other retail options. 

$5 Gourmet Pop-Up Lunches, Courtesy of The Grid

Many Sift, Dust & Toss readers will recall that this blog was featured heavily in The Grid, following the urban magazine’s successful launch in Toronto. The folks at The Grid have continued to impress me with various endeavors, from the beautifully visual piece they just posted, A Chef’s Guide to Toronto, to their most recent project: Pop-Up Lunches!

In celebration of The Grid’s one-year anniversary, they want to showcase some of the most delicious things their team tasted over the course of the year.

It’s all happening at Toronto’s 416 Snack Bar ((181 Bathurst, at Queen.) Each day at Noon, a different esteemed Toronto chef will put together crazy cheap $5 plates of delicious gourmet food until they’re all gone. The price also includes a bottle of SmartWater or Vitamin Water.

$1 from every sale will go towards a community-improvement project that will be defined and carried out by the Grade 2 class of The Grove Community School.

Below is the itinerary. Try and stop by if you work nearby!

  • Thursday, May 10: The Harbord Room‘s chef Cory Vitiello will be making a lunchtime version of his soft shell-crab tacos.
  • Friday, May 11: The residents at 416 Snack Bar will be making their Taiwanese steamed pork, fish, and veggie buns that made the bar so popular in the first place.
  • Saturday, May 12: The Stockyards on St. Clair West will serve three different kinds of house-made hot dogs.
  • Sunday, May 13: Hangover day – come back Monday.
  • Monday, May 14: Barque Smokehouse on Roncesvalles, will be serving slow-smoked beef short ribs with a sweet barbecue glaze.
  • Tuesday, May 15: Black Camel will be making their famous pulled-pork sandwiches with barbecue sauce, chipotle mayo, and caramelized onions.
  • Wednesday, May 16: The Black Hoof’s chef, Brandon Olsen, will be making a lunch version of his fried pork belly with pickled shimeji mushrooms, nori paste, and puffed rice.

Joanne Kates releases annual 'Top 100 Restaurants' list

There are more than 10,000 restaurants in the city of Toronto. That is a veritable sea of dining establishments, and there is one person who has been following their ups and downs for more than 30 years: Canada's top food critic Joanne Kates, who returns to the pages of Post City Magazines this month for its annual Kates Top 100 Restaurants edition.

"Joanne Kates is the best in the business bar none," said Ron Johnson, editor of Post City Magazines. "We knew in the beginning that if we were going to pull this off, we needed Kates. Without her, there is no list."

The top 10 restaurants are featured in Post City Magazines print editions while reviews of the entire 100 are available online in a searchable database. Restaurant listings include every detail from signature dishes and vegetarian options to nearby parking, making it the city's most popular, one-stop dining resource. And for the first time, a free iPhone app will launch in conjunction with Top 100's release.

"This way, you can take our guide with you to dinner," said Johnson. "Trying a new restaurant is always a bit risky. Our app solves that problem so you can find the best restaurants in your area, on the fly, in your price range, at the push of a button."

Topping this year's list once again is venerable Toronto restaurant Scaramouche, helmed by chef and co-owner Keith Froggett. Kates notes that if any Toronto restaurant is deserving of a Michelin Star (denoting the finest restaurants in the world), it is Scaramouche.

New restaurants in the top 10 include Acadia (ranked #2), Hopgood's Foodliner (#3),Yours Truly (#7) and Grand Electric (#8). Rounding out the top 10 are Zucca Trattoria(#4), Cava (#5), 2010's top restaurant Pastis (#6), Campagnolo (#9) and Centro (#10).

"It’s a new game. We’ve got four red-hot new places in our top 10, and 24 new listings in the top 100,” said Kates. “A generation of young chefs opened restaurants that straddle the line between bar and bistro, making every night party time. They’re opening restos on a shoestring because they want 100 per cent artistic control. The payoff is a fiesta on the taste buds, with incredibly exciting flavours and textures."

To celebrate the third annual “Kates 100”, Post City Magazines is launching a contest to find the city’s greatest foodie. Imagine being able to say that you’ve dined at all 100 of Toronto’s best restaurants; no small feat! With this in mind, we’re extending a challenge to Toronto foodies: Whoever eats at the most “Kates 100” restaurants (yeah, we know you can’t eat at all 100) by Labour Day (September 3, 2012) will win a $3,000-cash prize. Visit for contest details.

Oil Pulling

In this riveting sequel to 'Skin Brushing', blogger Jess Bennett revitalizes her obsession with ancient and biblical practices to explore a detox method traditionally performed by monks.

Since we recently covered skin brushing as a detoxing remedy, I thought we could continue along the same theme with an ancient custom that’s been on my radar recently: oil pulling.

Oil pulling or oil swishing is an ayurvedic alternative medicine remedy that is traditional in India and has been popularized by monks. It is said to pull toxins out of the body through the saliva in ones mouth. Like many alternative therapies, there is a good chunk of anecdotal evidence to support its benefits, but it has not been subject to clinical studies.

People claim that the benefits range from whiter teeth, to more radiant skin as well as a reduction in colds and allergies, headaches and other daily ailments we all experience, probably shouldn't, and regularly ignore. The idea is that, as you swish oil in your mouth, it draws nasty toxins from your body and then you spit out the toxins that have been accumulated when you spit out the oil. Some have compared its effects to chlorhexidrine in reducing dental plaque and gingival risks.

As someone whose life was drastically improved by consistent use of a neti pot, I’m open to other ayurvedic remedies that are purported to elevate ones quality of life. And for those of you who have been following this blog for a long time, you will likely note my deep affection for ancient and biblical things.

How it works
Oil pulling involves taking a tablespoon of oil into ones mouth and swirling it about for approximately 15-20 minutes. It is recommended to do this in the morning. Typical oil selections include sesame or sunflower, but I’ve also heard of people gently heating coconut oil until it’s no longer solid and using it instead. As the oil mixes with your saliva, it will become frothy and white. After swishing is complete, the oil is spit out and the teeth are rinsed and brushed.

Some people have experienced a gag reflex in the early days of pulling, but this typically passes as they grow more accustomed to the practice. Since I’ve just started experiementing with oil pulling, I’ll keep you posted on whether I notice any differences!

Have you tried oil pulling before and had any success? Are you skeptical about these kinds of remedies?