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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let's eat! Winterlicious and Chinese New Year's feasts are a treat in Toronto

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 24/15
   (c) By Jim Fox

   It’s time for some good eating in Toronto during Winterlicious and a feast to mark the Chinese New Year.
   Come and get it at Winterlicious, with “prix fixe” dining specials at 210 restaurants from Jan. 30 to Feb. 12.
   This year’s 13th annual event welcomes 25 new participants with a wide variety of cuisines.
Toula Restaurant & Bar in the Westin Harbour Castle, taking part in Winterlicious, has tables with a view of downtown Toronto and Lake Ontario.
   Included are Haitian and Ethiopian meals and first-timers such as America Restaurant in the Trump International Tower; Bindia Indian Bistro; Cluny; Luckee by Susur Lee; La Creole; and Pero Restaurant, said Anastasia Saradoc of Toronto’s Special Events office.
   Tables with a view are also taking part such as Toula Restaurant & Bar on the 38th floor of the Westin Harbour Castle.
   It features authentic Italian fine dining along with sky-high views of downtown Toronto and scenic Lake Ontario.
   With the largest number of restaurants involved so far in Winterlicious, it is “strongly recommended” to make reservations as early as possible.
Casa Loma has a sweet-treat special event with an assortment of pastry chef miniatures during Winterlicious.
   Three-course prix fixe lunches cost $18, $23 and $28 while dinners are priced at $25, $35 and $45.
   For a tasty preview, the list of participating restaurants and their menus is available online.
   Diners can locate and sort their potential choices by price, neighbourhood and cuisine, as well as share their list through social media.
   There are also 15 “one-of-a-kind” ticketed events featuring some of Toronto’s “most-unique and interactive foodie experiences.”
   These are called “fantastic cooking and dining experiences” hosted by top restaurants and chefs.
   On the list is a swanky roaring 20’s speakeasy at the Palais Royale, an historic Georgian dinner at Campbell House and a night of bees and honey at Globe Bistro.
   There’s a risotto masterclass at the Arcadian Studio and Loft and a celebration of the black truffle at Rosewater.
   Casa Loma’s Sweet Symphony features an assortment of pastry chef miniatures along with coffee and teas and a performance by the Casa Loma Quartet on Feb. 1 and 8 ($30).
   A counterpart to the winter culinary series is Summerlicious, both produced by the City of Toronto.
   Since the programs began, participating restaurants have served almost five-million meals.

   Gung Hei Fatt Choi
   Ring in the Chinese New Year with an authentic and lavish dinner hosted by culinary historian and tour guide Shirley Lum.
Shirley Lum has her latest edition of the Chinese Horoscope and treats ready for culinary walks and dinner.
   The Lunar Chinese New Year banquet to bid adieu to the Year of the Horse and usher in the Year of the Wooden Goat takes place on Feb. 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Taste of China on Spadina Avenue.
   It’s in addition to Lum’s Taste of the World walking tours on February weekends that feature a “behind-the-scenes” look at the preparations in the Chinese community for the New Year.
   “We will savour an authentic communal and sumptuous feast as we celebrate the festival to end all festivals,” Lum said of the dinner.
   Traditionally restricted to immediate family members and hosted at home, it will include 12 symbolic dishes cooked by the matriarch.
The Lion Dance to celebrate the Chinese New Year moves through the Dundas Street West Chinatown in Toronto. (Jim Fox photo)
   “Join us as we embrace a growing trend – as increasing numbers of aging Chinese matriarchs relinquish cooking the numerous courses to restaurant chefs, so they can finally enjoy it too, Lum said.
   The memorable and intimate evening will be filled with “equal portions of food and facts,” as Lum tells of the old and new customs, traditions and superstitions.
   Novice banquet attendees will hear tips on how to pace themselves to enjoy the banquet to the fullest and diners will hear the stories behind the auspicious names of the decadent dishes, she said.
   Lum will also crack open her 2015 Chinese horoscope book to predict what the New Year will bring.
   The menu includes crab meat and fish maw soup; sauteed shrimps; crispy chicken; double lobsters; whole steamed fish; Yeungchow fried rice; traditional dessert soup, fortune cookies; and a chocolate surprise.

   Need to know
   Winterlicious reservations are to be made directly with the participating dining establishment.
Details: toronto.ca/winterlicious; (416) 392-CITY (2489)
   The Lunar Chinese New Year banquet costs $60 a person or $500 for a table of 10.


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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