When I visited Montreal last year, the constant rivalry between that city and Toronto (at least in terms of deli food) was permanently resolved in Montreal’s favour with a visit to Schwartz’s. That heaven in a smoked meat sandwich blew away anything that I’d had in Toronto’s heavily commercialized delicatessens (although, to be fair, I’ve not made a quest to Toronto’s Jewish quarter on Bathurst Street, north of Sheppard; there may be some hidden gems there).
In Toronto, the food I most love to have is Chinese. The family-owned Ying Sing Bakery on Baldwin Street has wonderful beef buns and dim sum treats for super-reasonable prices.
As I mentioned earlier this year, Erin and I have resolved to avoid chain restaurants when we travel. Favouring local restaurants and local cuisine is riskier, but produces more memorable experiences than a visit to the golden arches. On our last trip to Omaha, despite the terrible reasons for our going, was still given some additional good memories by taking the chance and trying the local diners.
Erin and I are unlikely to find ourselves travelling in the immediate future. Even with Rosemary and Time due out this coming spring, the Dundurn Group tends to focus its limited promotion budget on sending out review copies (and they’ve had some success there), so there’ll be no book tour. Still, I can dream. Although I’ve visited several midwestern American states, I haven’t been further north and west than Sudbury when it comes to my travels through Canada. I’d love to see the great prairies and the Rocky Mountains and the Frasier’s drive to the sea, and I’d love to sample the local food while I’m at it.
There is a possibility that Erin might get a tour next year, to promote her book, Seal Up the Thunder. In 2003, when we were given an opportunity for a five-city tour of the Maritimes, we had a wonderful time. And though we didn’t have our “eat local” policy in effect, we still found some wonderful places to eat. Next year, or the year after that, maybe, Erin might get a chance to tour Western Canada. If that’s the case, and if Vivian and I are lucky enough to come with, we intend to do it properly.
Even if we don’t get a chance to tour anytime soon, I would like to compile a list, of neighbourhood restaurants and local specialities that we should try out when we visit particular towns and cities. So, consider this an opportunity to boost your own home town, or a nearby big city. If I’m going to, say, Calgary or Edmonton, what’s a good restaurant I should try? Remember, it has to be inexpensive. We’ll probably be eating sandwiches, but I happen to think that a good sandwich is one of the world’s most perfect foods. So, tell me your town’s best sandwich, and the best restaurant to try it out in.
I’ll be keeping my eye on this list, licking my chops.