Tag Archives: Gayle Hurmuses

Urban Spoon – Osteria dei Ganzi

AppetizerSIdePlateSmWtmkUrban Spoon hosted a lovely and extravagantly delicious evening for food bloggers at Osteria dei Ganzi on August 8, 2013, and I am thrilled that I was invited. The meal was excellent from start to finish and it was great to meet and speak with other bloggers. It’s been nearly a year since this review was written, but recent trips to Ganzi have been consistent with this experience, so here it is…a glorious summer patio recommendation for Toronto residents and tourists.

OlivesAndAranciniSmWtmkStandouts were the arancini, the bresaola, the eggplant parmesan, the trio of desserts, the ambiance…it was all part of a well planned and executed evening that impressed, as it was intended to do. The cocktails designed by Ganzi mixologist Joåo Machado were all pronounced excellent, I am loyal to their sangria, probably the best I have ever had and a wonderful complement to the entire meal.The arancini were everything one might wish for, with a crust that broke with a satisfyingly crisp snap under my teeth, revealing tender, perfectly seasoned rice, and large shavings of parmesan cheese, melting nicely throughout the ball. A side dish of parmesan sauce gilded the lily for a decadent finish.
EggplantParmeseanSmWtmkThe eggplant parmesan were presented as individual slices in the appetizer course and were perfectly cooked, with the eggplant slices at just that ideal point of doneness where it is tender, but not pungent. These were complemented by the fresh tomato slices and melted mozzarella that was perfectly molten, with the slightest trace of browning.
Mucca Pezzata
Mucca Pezzata

My main was off the menu, Mucca Pezzata, a grilled steak tagliata with red wine and cream sauce and a balsamic reduction, with roast potatoes, zucchini with red peppers, and asparagus. It was superb, and a perfect choice for my palate that evening, but the commitment-phobe in me wonders longingly about the two entrées that I did not choose.I had been sorely tempted by two of the specials, a lamb shank that sounded divine and was pronounced ‘exceptional’ by Eye Candy’s Abraham Wornovitzky, sitting to my left, and also a shrimp and breaded fried oyster pasta in a lemon/garlic olive oil sauce that I still dream of and long to have tried.

The seasoning on all dishes was restrained, but satisfying, each simple, but complex in variety.

Antipasto Tray
Antipasto Tray

This satisfying repast would have been enough, but there was more that I have not taken the time to detail, like the bresaola, which had me looking longingly at the board, wishing that it would magically replenish…as I also wished with the delicious gorgonzola that too-swiftly disappeared from the board at my section of the table. Had I a list of all items on the menu, I would rhapsodize on each…but they live on in my memory.

DessertSmWtmkThis was all then followed by a trio of satisfyingly decadent desserts, presented on a series of platters for two. These were a cheesecake made partly with mascarpone, a tiramisu made without it, and a lovely crisp cannoli. Had I perished on my way home, this would have been a worthy last meal.

OsteriaDiGanzi1Urban Spoon was well represented by Laura Williams, a congenial hostess who spent some time visiting with each of us throughout the evening, setting the tone for a convivial atmosphere.

Our servers, whose names I sadly did not record, were all excellent and professional and have been consistently so on both visits to the restaurant.

Executive Master Chef Guerrino Staropoli was charming and earnest in introducing his food, to which he clearly has a passionate commitment. This was my second visit to Ganzi and his commitment was also clear in the contrast between the two visits.

Perfect Sangria
Perfect Sangria!

At my first visit, not long after opening, Chef Staropoli was dealing with a newly created group of chefs that were not yet on the same page. Now, he has the evidence of a well-trained ensemble in which each knows their own role and plays their part with nuance and gusto. I can only imagine where they will be in another month, or year.

Where on my first visit, the food was very good, but not entirely memorable, this was an evening well worth revisiting and reliving on a lovely afternoon while sitting in my garden. I’m excited that Osteria dei Ganzi is fairly close to home and can’t wait until I have the opportunity to visit again. I highly recommend it for everything from a romantic dinner, to a gathering of family or friends.

My congratulations to Chef Staropoli, Mr Machado, co-owners Dan Gunam and Luca Biscardi, and to all involved on creating such a jewel.— at Osteria Dei Ganzi

Osteria Di Ganzi Bloggers Party
Osteria Di Ganzi Bloggers Party

Dolmathes with Avgolemono

Article and recipe by Gayle Hurmuses, photographs by Gisela McKay.IMG_8130

Dolmathes are one of those things (like sushi) which look more difficult than they truly are.

Take a platter of these to a party to look like a hero, and if you are using your own grapes,  cut a length of vine to use as decoration for the tray.

I love making Dolmathes for the meditative qualities of the process. A mildly fussy series of simple tasks, that when complete lead to a sense of esthetic pleasure…at least for me.

There are commercially available preserved grape leaves and those are perfectly fine…but I am fortunate to have a grape vine in the garden and  enjoy choosing the leaves right  before making the wraps.

If made without meat, these are vegetarian and if served without the Avgolemono sauce, they are also vegan.  For vegetarians make the sauce with either water or a vegetable stock.

My family recipe uses currants and raisins, which I have exchanged for cranberries…because Canada.

If made with meat,  dolmathes are most commonly made with lamb…or possibly goat.

Review: Andean Flavours 2014

Review by Gayle Hurmuses

Andean Flavours 2014, an event was organized for a group of growers & farmers and hosted by  EcoCanopy Andino , and the Trade office of Peru And Ecuador based in Toronto, was held at The King Edward Hotel on May 26, from 5pm to 9pm.

It was a nice choice of venue; even the conference rooms there have an elegance to them that enhances good food, and the staff are silently excellent.  Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late for the event and so missed the presentations, which were all in the first hour, but it was still a pleasant time being at the event, which was nicely thought out on a culinary level. A good thing, since its function was to showcase wonderful food from the Andean region…and it worked, since over 150 people attended this year’s event.

Fortunately for me, there was still a great deal of evidence of this thoughtful approach remaining and I was able to enjoy much of what had been presented.

There were several racks of Maca-herb crusted lamb chops, with artichoke salsa, remaining, perfectly cooked, tender and succulent, as it should be. These were prepared and presented by Chef Dennis of Hunter’s Landing and offered with a drizzle of Don Joaquin pepper sauce. The lamb paired well with the Quinoa and summer vegetables salad with Peruvian hot peppers vinagrette, and might have paired well also with the Quinoa noodles with Avocado Oil & tomato-palmito-artichoke salsa still being served, but I found that a bit too al dente for my taste. Also still available was an excellent Halibut ceviche with sacha inchi nuts, which was filled with chunks of delicious Halibut and had a nice fresh flavour.

I missed the Merken smoked chili pepper, spiked shrimp, exotic fruit drizzle, but am already a dedicated user of the Merken spice mix, which I regularly use to make a quick “chipotle-esque” mayo, as well as roasted chicken. I likewise missed the Hearts of Palm dip, living sprouts, so can’t comment on that, but am willing to believe based on the evidence, that I missed two excellent dishes.

The room was lined with vendors presenting their products, everything from the always wonderful Pacari chocolate to Olave oils, with a lovely and pungent single source pure olive oil that was delicious on its own and would be lovely as part of a garlic and Merken shrimp dish…this booth also had an excellent Avocado oil and the vendor was extremely knowledgeable about his product. Casillero del Diablo was sampling several nice wines and featuring their new and refreshing Rosé.

An enjoyable event made more memorable by the chance sighting of Bishop Tutu in the hotel lobby, he was there for another event, but graciously agreed to a photograph. My life is complete.


Chai packets

Recipe, article and photos by Gayle Hurmuses

I love chai, but am not a fan of commercial blends, preferring to make my own. This recipe is my personal blend.

Make sure to always buy the freshest spices you can get. They do last quite a while at some level, but you’ll notice the difference as soon as you get something fresh and new. I had this brought home to me last year at SIAL Canada where I tasted spices that were directly off of plantations. The difference between these and my ‘pretty fresh’ spices was dramatic.

Also, be sure that you are using genuine cinnamon, which has many feathery layers curling around each other like a crinoline, where cassia, which can legally be sold as cinnamon, but isn’t really the same thing, has only the single thick layer. There are huge flavour differences, and cassia does not have the health benefits of true cinnamon. I enjoy having the vanilla in the cup as well, but it’s an expensive indulgence and the tea is still good without it. My standard tea for this is orange pekoe, but Earl Grey blends  an also be a nice addition.

These instructions in this recipe are for making a single pot of chai, but since the biggest amount of bother with making the tea is getting all the ingredients assembled, I make enough for 20 pots of tea at a time and keep it all in individual snack bags. If you keep pinch pots or small fruit dishes, those are great to use as receptacles for the spices both for containing the ingredients and for preparing the mixtures before putting them into the bags.