Saturday, March 27, 2010


The bite of cold winds is back. This changeable March can be hard to live with - driving us crazy with its fickle weather. I am glad of this short sharp cold spell though, because I discovered a small moth invasion upstairs last week. The freezing cold outside gives me a chance to put out rugs and other woolens so that the moths get frozen out. Fingers crossed! The dread sign of a moth fluttering lazily past is such an alarm bell for me. Too many moth holes in favorite sweaters over the years have made me alert and edgy about moths. Do you have any other moth-fighting ideas to pass on?

So perhaps I'm a perpetual Polyanna, but in this case I have cause for being "glad glad glad" about the mean-feeling cold of late March.

Last night I feasted, at the house of friends, on the most delicious sauerkraut ever. It was made Latvian-style by H, slow-cooked with apple before being combined with various delicious versions of pork, all of it served, steaming and aromatic, with simple boiled potatoes. I felt greedy greedy and ate until I could fit in no more. There's another good reason for feeling glad of the cold spell: it made the sauerkraut even more warming and necessary and right!

Random thoughts from the week:
Have a look at the latest book by Joseph Heath (a philosophy prof at U of Toronto whom my kids like a lot), called Filthy Lucre. There are interesting insights and a wide and disciplined discussion and critique of many of the political and economic ideas and policy arguments made by both the right and the left. It's well-written, and very engaging, too.

Check out, if you haven't already, the food journalism site There are a lot of good writers and serious food journalists now contributing to it. As the pages of local and national papers shrink and food editors and writers all over arelooking for other avenues, they are turning to writing online. Some of us just blog quietly in our little corners, but some are more ambitious and disciplined. ZesterDaily is the product of just such hard work and dedication.

For people in Toronto and area: I found myself on Donlands just south of O'Connor this week... and stumbled on a place that has been around forever, apparently. It's a large Greek bakery called the Select, with baklava and kadaif and all their relations in amazing array, as well as a huge choice of feta cheeses, other Greek cheese, and some delicious fresh-tasting olives. Other treats include frozen moussaka which a friend of mine says makes great food for a crowd, unctuous and full of all the right stuff. Across the street is a place called Fresh from the Farm, with Amish and Mennonite products, from grass-fed meats (pork, beef, lamb) to pears and peaches in glass jars, home-made. Worth a repeat visit, for sure.

That chance to explore new areas of town was a reminder that I don't do enough of it. Being a traveller in your own city or region of countryside is a great opportunity to see things with fresh eyes and appreciatively.

The other day a friend was in from out of town and said "no argument" that she was taking me out for a meal. it was a Sunday and so our choices were narrowed. We went, on Dawnthebaker's recommendation, to the Black Hoof, a new bar-restaurant on Dundas Street West. It reminded me of a cocktail bar in New York, the new ones that are springing up in the lower East Side. But at Black Hoof the emphasis is on the food as well as the drink. They do a wide range of clean-tasting and delicious charcuterie, a brilliant tongue sandwich (presented finely sliced like smoked meat), and the cocktails are very very special. I have only tasted the one, so I am generalising about the others based on what other people have told me. Mine was gin (plain old Beefeaters) with a little lovage (a hint of celery taste) and lavender and lemon and I don't remember what else, sorry!. It was not sweet, just somehow perfect... Jen, the mistress of cocktails, is a co-owner. We sat at the bar and felt brilliantly cared for. Her wine advice was generous and right on too.

And finally, on local stuff, the new butcher in Kensington Market, who has taken over the spot long occupied by Max the kosher butcher (who sold up and retired), is called Sanagan's. What a treat to have locally sourced meat at reasonable prices, knowledgeably presented. Bring on the new wave of food producers and purveyors!

I promise this blog will not become a restaurant review spot, nor focussed on out-and-about-in-Toronto kinds of topics, but on a cold day, with no large thoughts in mind except how to will myself to get my tax paperwork done, I have ended up here. Hope you don't mind...

And finally, here we are almost at full moon again. The fattening moon was bright and high in the clear blue sky last night just after sunset as I walked to that sauerkraut feast. This week brings Passover and both Western and Orthodox holy weeks, with Easter as the huge punctuation mark next weekend. I'm going tomorrow to help Dawnthebaker make some matzoh (not kosher for Passover, but made attentively and with love for friends with a relaxed seder table), using Red Fife wheat . We'll make some spelt ones too, and we'll be working in her apartment kitchen.

I love working with friends to make seasonal food or food for a party. Collegial collaboration is so warming and energising!


Joe said...

I certainly love reading your comments about your time out and about in Toronto. Joe

Stephen said...

I was fascinated when I learned that clothes moths evolved from a moth whose larva feed on owl pellets (the undigested fir and feathers and bones they regurgitate) and also live in the nests of birds and small mammals (more feathers and fur). When people started making clothing and furnishings and houses of animal fur (e.g. wool) the moth was suddenly provided with a new and magnificent habitat in which to thrive. I think that carpet beetles made a similar jump from the wild to our caves and gers.

naomi said...

Thanks for that Stephen - so interesting. I dropped by a friend's house the other day and happened to mention moths. She showed me her solution, "moth killers" or some similar name, a kind of trap that youput in your cupborads etc. Home HArdware carries them, expensively ($10, and you buy a number of course). She says the moth corpses accumulate, and you wonder where they've all come from (!!!)
I'm off to buy some tomorrow!


You have to know which moth so you buy the right trap. Usually the moth is the Asian stored products moth (I'm kneedeep - once you store the birds' sunflower seeds inside it's unavoidable), so the trap has the pheromone for this moth only. I don't know if there really is a trap for clothes moths. I had a terrible session a couple of years ago - oriental carpets, all sorts of woollens that were tucked away in boxes in the basement... Leaving carpets outside in the winter did a decent job of control. Also throwing out a lot of woollen stuff helped too. All you need is an open window...
The Entomologist ;)

Mary said...

Moths have got at some of my favourite sweaters too, and I used the moth traps with success, as well as some moth-repelling herbs in tea bags I got at Renovation Hardware (speaking of pricey). Now I have gone back to keeping all my winter woolens in a cedar chest.