The Spotlight team on what they've been up during the 2011 holiday season, for the first Out and About of 2012..
Christmas Day brought my family and our cameras out to Guildwood Park in Scarborough. Guildwood Park is one of Toronto's most intriguing spots. Set along the cliffs that edge Lake Ontario, Guildwood Park includes forested walking trails, the now-boarded up Guild Inn (circa 1914) and formal gardens, spotted with stone sculptures and architectural features of some of Toronto's grand old buildings. It's a lovely, odd, spooky spot with some incredible views along Lake Ontario's eastern coast.
More of an 'in and about' holiday vacation, we spent quite a bit of time catching up on our movie watching. The best conversation starter: Transcendent Man; the most realistic: Contagion; the most surprising: Friends with Benefits; the most fun (albeit unrealistic) car chases: Fast Five; the funniest movie you will never have heard of: The Inbetweeners Movie; the most powerful: The Bang Bang Club.
Michael Di Caro
Inspired by fellow Spotlight contributor David Ort I finally gave no-knead bread a try. What took me so long? I've always been led to believe that the kneading process was inherit to making great bread. Kneading is something of an art, so I've felt it's best to leave bread-making in the hands of professionals. It turns out that with a solid recipe like Jim Lahey's you don't need the deft touch of a seasoned baker to make beautiful bread. You can get a crisp caramelised crust, a light airy crumb and a complex slightly-tangy fermented flavour—everything you could want in a good loaf. Given the minimal active time and the stellar results I can't imagine wanting to make hommade bread any other way. You can get Lahey's recipe on the blog of his bakery here and a video taking you through the process via the Mark Bittman here. Not only is it a solid basic recipe as is, but it's ripe for adding a few of your own touches. I thew in a bit of thyme and a small container of dry-cured black olives in my second go and it vanished from the dinner table in record time.
Having time off over the holidays meant being able to visit more brunch places. Keriwa Cafe continues to shine in my mind. After being there for dinner, I tried out their brunch, and it was as fantastic in the morning as it was in the evenings. Keriwa opens at ten, and seems to start filling up after eleven. I also visited an old standby, Lady Marmalade. It's the perfect east-side brunch place for this season, with rich and tasty food and house-made shakes in unique flavours.
Most of my December was spent at gatherings with friends and family, celebrating the holiday season and an army of birthdays (including my own). Near the end of every year, I always try to revisit my favourite restaurant of that year. In 2011, that restaurant was Blacktree. My dinner was grand, not only did I have a wonderful meal at Blacktree but it solidifed its status as a true gem in Ontario. If you haven't been, you must go. It is truly something special.