The Wall Street Journal recently had an article “An Insiders Guide to Toronto” in which various Toronto luminaries recommended their favorite things to see, do, and eat in Toronto. When Reed and I visited Toronto a few weeks ago we brought the article along. In the write up Margo Timmins, the lead singer of the Cowboy Junkies, recommended the Ok Ok Diner as serving the best breakfast in the city.
The staff at the Ok Ok Diner was very friendly and accommodating but our breakfasts were more standard diner fare than the best eggs in town. If Ms. Timmins was correct and this was the best breakfast in town, then Toronto’s food scene seemed a little bleak.
For lunch we gave the WSJ’s guides the benefit of the doubt and tried another one of their picks, Mother’s Dumplings, with the same results. Solid dumplings, but nothing to write home about or recommend in the WSJ.
At dinner our luck changed. We met Reed’s friends for dinner and they saved us from any more lackluster meals with wonderful restaurant recommendations starting immediately with dinner at Origin Restaurant. Travel’s always better when you have a friend at the destination. Toronto does indeed have a fabulous restaurant scene but just don’t look to this WSJ article for your recommendations there.
We had dinner at Origin, a popular spot featuring an eclectic mix of small plates. Luckily, Reed’s friends were able to talk the host into giving us a table on the patio.
Fashionable Torontonians filled the main dining room of the St. Lawrence neighborhood restaurant but between the people, the open kitchen, and the music the main dining room was too loud for good conversation but the patio was festive without being noisy.
Reed’s friends had been to Origin Restaurant before and were able to recommend the best things to order which was very helpful because almost everything on the menu looked delicious. Origin Restaurant
Origin is particularly good to visit with a group of hungry people so you can sample lots of their small plates. Of everything we tried my favorite was the Bufala mozzarella + pear + rosemary oil + pinenuts + honey tapas.
When I made these for my family that vary from open minded to an extremely picky eater everyone loved these.
Poaching pears is super simple but not all pear varieties stand up to cooking well so make sure you pick one that’s suitable for cooking and your pear & fresh mozzarella tapas will be outstanding. The types of pear that best stand up to poaching are Bosc, Bartlett and Seckel.
Pear & Fresh Mozzarella Tapas with Honey, Pine Nuts & Rosemary (yields 12 tapas)
(Active time: 20 minutes Total time 40 minutes)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus extra garnish
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 ripe, firm pear, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
- 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 12 slices of fresh mozzarella,
- 12 slices French bread, toasted
Add the rosemary and olive oil to a small bowl. With a wooden spoon muddle the rosemary in oil to release the essential oils. Set aside.
Over low heat simmer honey, water, lemon and a pinch of salt small sauce pan until combined. Add pear slices. Gently simmer pear slices until tender, about 3 -5 minutes. With a slotted spoon gently remove pear slices, set aside. Reduce the honey mixture until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Once honey mixture has cooled add pine nuts into honey mixture.
Brush bread slices with rosemary oil, top each with a pear slice, then a mozzarella slice, 1 tsp of pinenut, honey mixture, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, garnish with a few tender rosemary leaves. Drizzle remaining rosemary oil over tartines and serve.