The August Ecclesiastes is here. One excerpt below:

This is it, the best time in the year for Ontario produce! This summer is one of the best the Chef can remember in terms of sweet, ripened flavourful Ontario vegetables and fruit. Chef Loseto’s face is wreathed with smiles as he recounts his trip to the Ontario Food Terminal this week.

Tomatoes have started and are abundant. Buy regular field tomatoes but you must be sure that they have not been in the fridge. Even residing there overnight will take the flavour edge off and they will never be amazing in terms of smell and texture.

How do you tell if they have been in the fridge? The Chef says the first rule is not to buy them at supermarkets where they are routinely stored in cold areas. Look carefully and look for bright coloured ones. If they have been in the fridge, they tend to look dull and wet with beads of perspiration. Buy them at farmer’s markets. Or go to Fiesta Farms or if you’re spending money Harvest Wagon. To avoid sticker shock there, try Dianas at St Clair and Dufferin or Lady York at Dufferin and Lawrence. Ask them whether they were refrigerated.

Back at the Terminal the Chef reveled in all the good stuff. Raspberries are now very good holding their sweetness and shape. Blackberries this year are remarkably sweet. There are lots of delicious peaches this year. Ontario melons, canteloupes and watermelons, are fantastic. Italian cucumbers are shaped like small rugby balls are here and outstanding. These are so much better than the usual cucumbers available all year long and indistinguishable in taste as the seasons progress. And they are somewhat of a specialized Toronto product as well.

Eggplants and zucchini are here with field peppers. The Chef believes that field peppers are infinitely better than the hot house variety available year round. Ditto for celery which now has a different flavour the Chef raves about.

The apricot crop seems to have failed this year despite the abundance of the peach crop. Cauliflowers are superb. The Chef bought a lot of okra which he uses in a sofritto with wild morel mushrooms accompanying the squab dish.

Ominously, the Chef noted the arrival at the Terminal of the fall crop – Ontario pie pumpkins, apples, pears and squashes. He turned his back on them aware that our sweet high season is distressingly short.

Even though the Chef had arrived at the Terminal at 6 am, the Chef’s regular zucchini flower supplier had sold out his offering to Diana’s who arrived at 3.30 am. After words Chef Loseto reserved a quota for next week. These vegetables cooked tempura style go onto an exotic fresh tomato and burrata dish available at lunch. The buratta cheese (resembling mozzarella) is flown in from the Chef’s hometown in Puglia weekly. This is a sleeper on the menu at George.

Fresh line-caught swordfish is available in Toronto and recommended. The Chef received an 89 pound halibut which caused some excitement in the kitchen. The Chef is also using BC Qualicum Bay scallops which are in season and delicious.

Chef Loseto warns against some of the coho and other BC salmon on sale. Sometime when it is filleted, it is spongy retaining too much water. The taste is metallic. Look for any signs of soft flesh inside the fish and avoid such fish like the plague.

The Chef likes his squab dishes he currently makes. Squabs or pigeons arrive in the kitchen with their heads and claws making quite an impression on our kitchen complement. The same Ontario supplier has begun to supply us with elk rack. Water buffalo is arriving.

Our most delicious summery dessert is fresh mixed berries served on a slip of tapioca and coconut sauce. We know two people who asked that the tapioca layer be left out. Very difficult to fathom but we suppose it’s all about what Mom got you used to.

– Le Patron



Follow me for my ruminations on local seasonal food markets as well as speculation on broader global food issues @lepatronecc3