The Buzz: May/June 2014

Written by The Editors


New & Notable Nov/Dec 2013


In a recommendation that went to the Planning and Environment Committee in March, London’s city staff requested holding a public participation meeting on May 13 at City Hall to discuss a pilot program that would permit non-amplified music on outdoor patios within reasonable hours this summer. In effect for more than 20 years, the existing bylaw banning live music and entertainment on outdoor patios is targeted at “reducing conflict arising from noise,” city documents reveal. It is expected that the pilot project will be reviewed at the end of the year.

Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC) is a country-wide organization whose members share a passionate interest in Canadian food history and food ways. They view Canada’s unique food history as having a vital place in contemporary culture, and really, they are talking about the original 100-mile diet.  They hope to “inspire appreciation while advancing knowledge of Canada’s food history.” Stratford Chef School graduate Angel Commins ( is the membership committee chair of CHC and she is looking for new members to help grow the national organization. Commins is also working on a cookbook of Canadian heritage desserts/baking, and hopes to be conducting cooking classes in her home starting late spring of this year.

The sounds, tastes and culture of Mexico are returning to downtown London. Celebrate the fourth annual Fiesta London at the Covent Garden Market. Enjoy a day full of fun, fiesta and mariachi as you explore the beauty of Mexico’s food, rich history, art and music. It’s the Hispanic signature event in London. Sunday June 9, 11 am–10 pm.

Bring your friends and enjoy the true tastes of summer at the London Beer and BBQ Show at the Western Fair District Agriplex. The event will showcase many fine craft breweries from across southwestern Ontario and will pair beers with outstanding BBQ prepared by a variety of grill masters from local and area restaurants. Sample over 50 beers from Ontario’s established culture of craft beers, savour sumptuous barbecue by local grillers — everything from pork ribs and pulled pork to brisket and chicken. Participate in a variety of sports, cooking demos and activities running throughout the weekend. Friday June 20th to Sunday June

Double Decker Ice Cream is going into its third summer and the red double-decker bus on Wellington Road (next to The Red Lobster) has become fairly well known around the city. Recently, Double Decker Ice Cream opened a satellite location at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market on the 2nd floor. This provides a year-round London location for premium quality Shaw’s Ice Cream, made locally from Ontario-produced cream since 1948. At the market, they have added the “All-Day Breakfast” — fresh hot waffles with ice cream and choice of toppings.

London Ice Cream has added some great new flavours this spring, including Chocolate Box (Acadian vanilla swirled with Au Chocolate ice cream with caramel, mint, cherry & raspberry chocolate cups), Fruit Loop (lemon, lime and raspberry ice cream swirled together) and Chicago Mix (buttered popcorn, salty cara­mel & a cheesy character!)

Abruzzi presents a “Front to Back” fundraiser for Bethanys Hope Foundation ( on Sunday June 1. An Italian-inspired 5-course menu will be served by the cooks and cooked by the servers. Tickets are $150 (and eligible for a $75 tax receipt) and 100% of the profit goes to this exciting local charity, which announced at their “Big Italian Kitchen Party” gala last month that they are close to running clinical trials in their search for a cure for leukodystrophy. The ticket price includes wine, and a cash bar will be available. Cocktails begin at 6pm, with dinner service at 7. For tickets, call Bethanys Hope at 519-642-7589 or drop by Abruzzi at 119 King Street.

Gary and Martha McAlister of Everything Tea are pleased to announce rotating weekly specials of teas and accessories at exceptionally reasonable prices. Watch for changing website news coming soon. Lovely bright coloured teapots with floral and gardening themes are in stock to herald spring’s arrival. Saturdays, upstairs at the Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market 8 am to 3 pm. 519-433-9522

Locomotive Espresso is London’s newest independent purveyor of caffeinated beverages and other fine fare. In addition to serving a great selection of coffees, lattes and espressos, brewed by professionally trained baristas on a La Marzocco GB5 (handmade in Florence, Italy), Londoners will find a variety of locally-sourced products and services including fresh salads, paninis and baked goods from Heirloom Catering; fresh breads from The Artisan Bakery; cold pressed juices from the Pulp & Press Juice Co.; organic teas from Wisdom Teashop and Clipper Teas (UK); biscotti from local pastry chef Michele Lenhardt; Kosuma Bars, Habitual Chocolate and Nepalese chai tea, fresh rolls, and granola from Momo’s At The Market, from the Western Fair Farmers’ Market.

The Five Fortune Culture Restaurant opened to crowds in March at the southeast corner of Richmond and King Street. Owners Jeff and Wenbei Li travelled 7,756 miles to start a new life in a strange land with the hope of living more peacefully. The cuisine is a combination of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou styles and influences. Mixian mini-pots, rice noodles, green onion pie, pancake rolls and dumplings are among the house-made specialties.

The Black Olive Mediterranean Bistro opened recently in south London and serves traditional Lebanese cuisine. The casual bistro-style restaurant at 825 Southdale Rd. W. has 24 seats plus 15 on the patio.

Done Like Dinner has been making a name for itself over the past year, supplying home-cooked meals to busy London families, professionals and seniors. Co-owners Annie Johnstone and Stephanie Johnson, dedicated farmers’ market and local producer supporters, offer a made-from-scratch entree, soup and salad delivered free on Tuesdays and Thursdays. See menus and ordering info at

Farm Boy fresh market stores are coming to London with their first store set to open in June at 1045 Wellington Road, beside Chapters. Founded in Cornwall in 1981, the chain now has 14 locations carrying abundant varieties of fresh produce, premium meats and artisan cheese, plus made-from-scratch meals and 60 feet of self-serve food bars with fresh greens, grains, grilled proteins and an array of hot and tasty favourites made in the Farm Boy Kitchen. Londoners can expect Farm Boy to stock a number of their favourite local products.

Ontario Update

As of May 1, 2014, homegrown wines, crafted entirely from Ontario-grown grapes and following local winemaking standards, can be bought at approved farmers’ markets. Locally, Quai du Vin Estate Winery has applied to set up shop at nine markets in our region.

For purposes of the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and Regulations, “farmers’ market” means: a central location at which a group of persons who operate stalls or other food premises meet to sell or offer for sale to consumers products that include, without being restricted to, farm products, baked goods and preserved foods, and at which a substantial number of the persons operating the stalls or other food premises are producers of farm products who are primarily selling or offering for sale their own products. VQA wine may be sold during farmer’s markets’ hours of operation. Many are hoping that this will pave the way for expanding additional product offerings in the future to include a wider range sales of local craft beer, wine and artisanal spirits at farmers’ markets and beyond.

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews announced new legislation will oblige restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts alongside pricing. The legislation will force restaurants to post a contextual statement about daily calorie intake and give power to Ontario Public Health to enforce the new rules. The minister hoped for the bill to come into effect as of January 2015, but now an election is pending.

The general minimum wage increase from $10.25 to $11 per hour will take effect June 1, as well as corresponding raises in student hourly minimum wage from $9.60 to $10.30 and liquor server minimum wage by hour from $8.90 to $9.55.

A new and independent competition, with Loblaw as marquee sponsor, became the largest cheese competition in Canada with 76 producers across the nation providing 291 cheeses for judging at University of Guelph. It is the first cheese competition in Canada open to all types of milks used in cheese making — cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo — with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That meant no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

Ontario’s chefs, culinary enthusiasts and cookbook lovers are grieving the loss of a 31-year-old Toronto institution. The Cookbook Store closed its doors for good in March to make way for a new condo development.

The Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation is the provincially mandated Regional Tourism Organization for Ontario’s Southwest (also known as Region 1). About 220 tourism operators from across Southwestern Ontario were in London in March for their annual conference.

Seasonal Farmers’ Markets

The MyPick® verification program grew out of a real need. Shoppers at Ontario farmers’ markets often thought they were buying directly from local farmers when in fact they were buying from resellers. They had no way of knowing which vendors were which. Now they do, thanks to the MyPick® verification program from Farmers’ Markets Ontario®. When you see a vendor displaying a MyPick® sign, you can be sure you’re getting just-picked freshness from the grower’s own farm, and are helping support local

The Covent Garden Market Farmers’ Market offers seasonal, fresh, friendly and local food twice a week, outside on the tented square. These vendors are involved in producing what they are selling, and are happy to answer questions. For current news, recipes and seasonal information, go to their blog: Thursday & Saturdays, 8 am to 1 pm, weather permitting.

Masonville Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market features over 40 farmers, artisans and food producers. Located in North London in the former Sears parking lot at the Masonville Place Mall, just north of Fanshawe Park Road off Richmond Street. Fridays 8 am to 2 pm, May to October. Weather permitting.

Since its inception, Slow Food Perth County’s Sunday Market has been a popular go-to food destination. Market-goers appreciate the good, clean, fair principles of Slow Food as well as the exceptional produce and artisanal products offered by local vendors. Now outdoors at Stratford Market Square, the market moves indoors to The Local Community Food Centre after Thanksgiving. Sundays 10 am to 2 pm.

Strathroy Farmers’ Market is one of Middlesex County’s longest running Farmers’ Market established in 1861, located on Market Square behind the Town Hall in Strathroy at 52 Frank Street. Saturdays 8 am to 12 noon, early June to October.

Horton Farmers’ Market supports the regional economy by providing access to high quality food producers, craftspeople and artisans. The market endeavours to have only local producers and craftspeople represented, giving you a taste and experience unique to St. Thomas. Manitoba Street, ½ block north of Talbot Street. St. Thomas, Saturdays. May 10th to November.

Downtown Woodstock Farmers’ Market is a vibrant outdoor local market in the heart of Woodstock on Museum/Market Square. Museum Square and Dundas St., Woodstock. May to October, Thursdays 12 noon to 5 pm (sometimes later).

Grand Bend Farmers’ Market welcomes you to a season of fresh, locally-grown produce. If the vendors don’t grow it, produce it, make it or bake it, it can’t be found at the market. They offer a varied selection of products from the three counties of Huron, Middlesex and Lambton. 1 Main St., Grand Bend (Colonial Hotel Parking Lot — enter off Hwy 21.) Opens May 21 to October 8. Wednesdays 8 am to 1 pm.

Culinary Education

Professors at Brescia University College have been awarded a $50,000 Healthy Eating in Secondary Schools grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education to launch a university peer nutrition education program at Oakridge Secondary School. FRESH (Food Resources and Education for Student Health) is a multi-strategy program created by and for university students under the supervision of Dr. Paula Dworatzek and Dr. June Matthews, Associate Professors in Food and Nutrition at Brescia, and Anne Zok, Nutrition Manager for Western’s Hospitality Services. Now in its fifth year of operation, FRESH has reached thousands of university students through peer education (FRESH ED), a web site (, and various social media channels. It has also influenced the campus food environment by highlighting healthier options in vending machines (Healthier 4U) and on menus (FRESH Approved). Their frequent-buyer program (FRESH Fruit/Dairy Card) has increased consumption of these healthy foods.

Drs. Matthews and Dworatzek will work with Diane O’Shea, Family Studies Department Head and teacher at Oakridge Secondary School, to implement FRESH High with the help of 20 students, drawn mostly from Grade 10. Throughout the 2014–15 school year, Oakridge students will receive mentoring and orientation to be empowered participants in FRESH High. The program will teach the students to become advocates for changes to the food environment, and raise brand awareness through interactive displays, food demonstrations, and social media. If the inaugural program is deemed a success in a post-program evaluation, FRESH High may expand to other secondary schools.

The 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup London Host Committee is excited to announce the May 16–25 schedule for the upcoming Championship. Featuring a possible nine thrilling hockey games, the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup also involves a number of activities off the ice. The 11-day event begins with the Arrival of the Memorial Cup Ceremony and the Opening Gala, both presented by BMO. From exciting acts in the Budweiser Beer Garden (beer tent in the South Parking Lot of Budweiser Gardens), to the Downtown London FanFest open daily on Talbot Street and the Covent Garden Market Square, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Fans can enjoy a Captains’ Pancake Breakfast, a tour at the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, a beach event with the Memorial Cup, a celebration at our local legions with the Memorial Cup, and the MasterCard Memorial Cup Golf Tournament.

Downtown London is working with Tourism London, downtown hotels and the London Convention Centre to promote businesses to visitors this summer. In particular the organizations are working with them to distribute the Downtown Guide and the new visitor dining guide, Taste Downtown London, to help people find places to dine.

Last year London City Council agreed to get public feedback on a proposed program to allow food trucks. The current Food Truck Pilot Proposal was heard by the Community and Protective Services Committee on April 28th. Many councilors remained hesitant about the pilot program going forward as written and the proposal was tabled for a special meeting before council the first week of May. The proposal worked its way between city departments for months and has been refined and revised along the way to avoid the bureaucratic red tape that plagued Toronto’s food truck initiative. The City liberalized the initial food truck plan, and proposed a much less restrictive version that balances the interests of stakeholders and recognizes and encourages entrepreneurial spirit. As of this writing it is expected that a new food truck licence will cost a vendor $1,225.

Initially, the City Policy Coordinator stated that an impartial Food Truck Advisory Review Panel, made up of local food industry experts, was expected to provide knowledgeable opinion and recommendations regarding food truck strategy in London. In addition, the panel was anticipated to be charged with encouraging culturally diverse and original menu offerings, and endorsing the promotion of healthy eating. But the latest report that went to politicians stated that menu-vetting (read micro-managing) is too complicated to be part of London’s food-truck plan.

Under the new proposal, City staff will be able to designate locations based on such criteria as proximity to restaurants, schools and neighbourhoods. There will be is a 25-metre buffer zone separating food trucks from existing restaurants. Food trucks will also be required to keep their distance from schools, and vendors will be required to keep a log of their whereabouts. Food trucks will be required to close for business between 3 am and 7 am. Food trucks are subject to standardized health and safety regulations and inspections.

The proposed food truck by-law amendments appear to provide reasonable recommendations and safeguards, making the pilot much more accessible to entrepreneurs. However, it is still too early to try to define what London’s food truck streetscape will look like and if there will be significant changes to the pilot proposal.

The swanky Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shoppe is the latest venture for the River Room Private Dining and North Moore Catering team. The stylish lounge is situated in the former gift shop at Museum London, and the rhino in the logo is a direct and thoughtful reference to artist Tom Benner’s iconic aluminum sculpture of a white rhino, which has called the front lawn of Museum London’s home for nearly 30 years.

In June, artist Ron Benner will be installing a photographic/garden installation in Xi’an, China, which the Museum in Xi’an is organizing for him. The director there is planning to maintain this garden installation as an on-going contemporary art project in this amazing site. Benner’s photographic/garden installation at Museum London will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary with its annual Corn Roast on August

Chef Dani Gruden Murphy has joined The Root Cellar and the On the Move Organics team. The newly renovated premises will open on Monday, May 5 (a soft opening with a grand opening to follow once The Root Cellar is licensed). For the first few weeks, they will be featuring prix fixe dinner specials on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We can expect lots of new spring dishes featuring local organic fare (as always), a move to table service (the take-out counter will remain open all day), and local wine and craft beer offerings to follow soon. The Root Cellar will also be the home of the newly-incorporated London Brewing Co-operative (English-speaking Canada’s first worker-owned brewery).

Luis Rivas and Elsa Garcia and family continue to wow guests by providing Latin flavour and ambience at their new and much larger True Taco Authentic Comedor Latino restaurant, across from their former premises, at 784 Dundas Street. This is a lively cantina with vibrant red walls and plenty of comfortable seating areas, including a private room. The original True Taco opened after perfecting its business model and building a loyal following at its Saturday operation at the Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market. The restaurant offers up a spectacular all-day breakfast of huevos rancheros, sunny-side up eggs with homemade sauce served with locally sourced beans and tortillas. Handmade pupusas are a specialty and are made with rice or corn flour tortillas typically stuffed “de queso” (fresh cheese) or chicharron (fried pork) and served with refried beans and crudito (traditional cabbage relish) and tomato sauce. Central American offerings include burritos, tacquitos, quesadillas, enchiladas and corn-husk wrapped pork and corn meal tamales. They are expecting to apply for a liquor licence in the coming weeks.

The Soho Diner has been earning rave reviews since it opened in early February. The diner is located in the premises of the former Lemon Tree Lebanese Restaurant, directly across from the Viet-Thai Restaurant at 223 Horton Street at Clarence. This new breakfast and lunch hot spot is open seven days a week from 11 am to 4 pm. Chef Chris Howard’s menu offerings include Fried Buttermilk Chicken with homemade coleslaw, prosciutto and tomato bruschetta on sour dough and the Ultimate Grilled Cheese with aged cheddar, Swiss, mascarpone and jalapeño.

Restaurateur Greg Efstatheu and Covent Garden Market produce merchant Chris Doris are expected to open Olive R. Twists in the space with what is arguably the best patio downtown. The new restaurant will occupy the premises formerly occupied by Upfront at the Market and Chauncey Smith’s.

Kathryn Banasik and Robin Azzopardi`s Byron Freehouse continues to receive rave reviews for a menu of comfort foods, specifically updated riffs on gourmet versions of classic quick-bistro fare. The Freehouse’s beautifully appointed 1288 Commissioners West patio has one of the largest areas for al fresco dining in the city.

Black Trumpet Chef Scott Wesseling has introduced new spring and summer lunch and dinner menus. The expanded lunch menu includes a couple of different burgers, a first for Black Trumpet, one using bison and the other venison! The restaurant’s elegant courtyard patio, one of London’s gems, is now open.

Zack Agathos from Icarus has had some delays with construction approvals due to City reviews taking a long time. As of this writing he’s predicting a mid-May opening. Agathos will begin with a soft opening without a liquor license.

London Training Centre’s three-week Local Food Skills program continues through the spring, summer and fall. The LTC grows ecologically-raised food at the farm just west of the city. They will be selling their vegetables along with baked goods at the Masonville Farmers’ Market on Friday mornings. London Training Centre will be hosting its annual fundraiser on Thursday July 17, at the farm. The “Food for Thought” event, formerly held in September, will know be called “The Feastival.”

While Fair Trade has been a core focus for Fire Roasted Coffee (FRC) since its inception in 2006, FRC has expanded its direct trade relationships with organizations like Cafe Justicia from Guatemala. FRC recently announced a new direct trade relationship with a co-op of small family farms in the Lake Kivu region of Rwanda. FRC will be carrying one of the five micro lots of this light, bright and buttery coffee. These types of relationship can create real change in the global community through farmers achieving sustainable livelihoods by growing outstanding specialty coffee.

FRC and Habitual Chocolate announced their recent collaboration with Lifford Wines & Spirits, a wine provider that focuses on quality wines from family-owned vineyards. Lifford’s has arranged a cellar of reds and whites that taste delicious on their own, and are offering rich reds to complement Habitual Chocolate’s dark, in-house chocolates, and crisp whites to sip with lighter chocolates.

The Church Key Bistro-Pub, with its innovative farm-to-table inspired menus and stellar craft beer selection, celebrated its fifth birthday on May 1. Owners Pete and Vanessa Willis say they will begin serious celebrations in July.

Downtown London’s The Raja Fine Indian Cuisine also turns five this summer. In appreciation to their clients, they will be offering a free appetizer to patrons with a minimum purchase of $50 for two. The Raja is also serving an Express Lunch for downtown workers who have a limited time for lunch.


Co-owner Jeffrey Leney tells us that the new Pazzo Bambino, located in the former Pazzo Bakery, is essentially a food shop serving pizzas, sandwiches, antipasti, salads, Italian sweets, espresso drinks and focaccia with a focus on take-out. There are 30 seats for those who wish to dine in. Designer Ron Nuhn took the former bakery concept and blew it up, creating an operatic ambience and an exciting space.

The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival, presented by GE Café Appliances, will take place earlier in the season than usual, on the weekend of July 18–20. Historically held in September, the event celebrates local cuisine, welcoming great guest culinary personalities, local artisanal producers and farmers, and outstanding Stratford chefs. This year’s theme is Coast to Coast to Coast and the 30th Anniversary of the renowned Stratford Chef School. Meet some of the top young chefs under 40 from across Canada — from Newfoundland to the N.W.T. to B.C. — all award winners, many trained in Stratford, and others associated with Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain. With over 150 chefs, farmers, producers, Ontario wineries and craft brewers, cheese makers and culinary personalities, this is one of the largest culinary festivals in Ontario.

Stratford’s newest culinary trail is a sweet treat! The Savour Stratford Maple Trail is the third in Stratford’s culinary trail offers. This self-guided tour presents 10 maple-inspired stops with offerings that range from aged maple balsamic vinegar, to a maple-smoked bacon BLT and a maple chai latte. Other Savour Stratford culinary trails include the Chocolate Trail and the Bacon & Ale Trail, each available all year round for $25 plus HST.

Looking for Chocolate? Come July, Chocolate Barrs is moving from 136 Ontario Street to 55 George Street West (formerly The Sun Room restaurant). Be sure to check out the new digs for tasty treats.

GE Café Chefs Series Cooking Classes offer fun hands-on cooking classes with celebrated Ontario chefs in Stratford. On May 4, Chef Joshna Maharaj of Ryerson University will be paired with Lailey Vineyard Winery. On May 18, Chef Dennis Tay of Richmond Station will be paired with Tawse Winery. On May 25, Chef Jordan Lassaline of Local Community Food Centre, Stratford will be paired with Rosehall Run Vineyards. Purchase tickets online.

The restaurant and lounge are open at The Bruce, with the hotel opening May 24. Executive Chef Aaron Linley describes his menu as “Nouveau Ontario” — imaginative, ambitious, eclectic cuisine marrying global influence, modern French technique and the very best of Ontario.

Come to the wild side on May 10 & 11 and June 14 & 15 in the Search for Morels, as seasoned forager Peter Blush of Puck’s Plenty leads you along the beautiful Avon Trail, hunting for wild edibles and wild mushrooms. Take away Peter’s favourite recipes to showcase your fresh picks. Information and tickets at

Enjoy 2–3 hour morning or afternoon Flavours of Stratford Culinary Tour in downtown Stratford. Meet some of the faces behind the places and learn tips, tricks and techniques while savouring samples along the way. Tours run Wednesday to Saturday, May to October.

Celebrate pork with Hog Wild Week in Stratford June 16-22. From the Bacon & Ale Trail, tasting delicious pork and beer-inspired treats to visiting selected restaurants and pubs that are creating special menus, pork events and tastings devoted to pork… and bacon, too. Stratford is not only the home of the Stratford Festival but also of the National Pork Congress, June 18-19.

Canadian entertainers from a variety of musical genres perform at the Stratford Blues and Rib Fest, June 20–22, as award-winning ribs are served for a weekend of delicious BBQ along with a Vendor Village Veterans Drive in Stratford.

Visit the Stratford Perth Museum and share a favourite dish at The Big (Canadian) Lunch – a community lunch ­– on Sunday June 29 from 12 noon–2pm.

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The Editors